Merck says will not seek approval of cholesterol treatment

A view of the Merck & Co. campus in Linden, New Jersey March 9, 2009. REUTERS/Jeff Zelevansky

(Reuters) - Merck & Co Inc said on Wednesday it will not seek regulatory approval for its experimental cholesterol drug, anacetrapib, as the clinical profile of the treatment does not support regulatory filings.

In August, a large study on anacetrapib found that the treatment cut the risk of heart attack and death by a modest 9 percent, while causing a build up of the drug in fat tissue, leaving its commercial future uncertain.

The treatment is part of a class known as CETP inhibitors designed to raise HDL, the so-called good cholesterol.

On Wednesday, the company said it will not submit an application for marketing approval after reviewing the clinical profile of the drug.

A little over a decade ago, CETP inhibitors were hailed as the next big heart drug but companies including Pfizer Inc, Eli Lilly and Roche eventually scrapped development programs amid lack of efficacy or safety issues.

Reporting by Ankur Banerjee in Bengaluru; Editing by Shounak Dasgupta