May 3, 2013 / 7:45 PM / 4 years ago

FDA approves Merck combination cholesterol lowering pill

May 3 (Reuters) - The U.S. Food and Drug Administration
approved a Merck & Co cholesterol lowering pill that
combines a generic version of Pfizer Inc's Lipitor with
its own Zetia, Merck said on Friday.
    The new combination drug will be sold under the brand name
Liptruzet and will begin shipping to wholesalers next week, the
company said.
    Merck already sells a two-drug cholesterol fighter called
Vytorin that combines Zetia, known chemically as ezetimibe, with
Merck's older LDL lowering medicine Zocor. Lipitor, known
chemically as atorvastatin, is considered to a more powerful
statin than Zocor.
    Vytorin, which had sales of $1.75 billion in 2012, is
currently undergoing a long-term trial to prove that it can
reduce heart attacks and strokes better than Zocor (simvastatin)
alone. While results of that study should definitively determine
the value of Zetia to patients, the drug on its own rang up
sales of $2.67 billion in 2012.
    "No incremental benefit of Liptruzet on cardiovascular
morbidity and mortality over and above that demonstrated for
atorvastatin has been established," Merck said.
    The new drug will be available in four doses, combining 10
milligrams of Zetia with either 10, 20, 40 or 80mg of

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