June 5, 2009 / 2:21 PM / in 9 years

Merck heart failure drug misses goals in study

NEW YORK (Reuters) - Merck & Co Inc’s experimental heart failure drug, one of the drugmaker’s important potential medicines, failed to meet the goals of a pivotal late-stage study, the company said on Friday.

Merck, whose shares fell 2.4 percent, said it will not file applications this year seeking regulatory approval for rolofylline.

The medicine failed to meet the primary or secondary efficacy goals in the 2,033-patient Phase III study.

Dan Bloomfield, Merck’s executive director for cardiovascular research, called the results “disappointing,” saying that advances for patients with acute heart failure “have long been elusive.”

Merck acquired rolofylline in 2007 when it bought NovaCardia. Merck Chief Executive Officer Richard Clark told Reuters in November that rolofylline “will be an important drug.”

Despite the setback, Merck is due to dramatically expand its experimental research pipeline with its $41 billion acquisition of Schering-Plough Corp, announced in March.

Merck shares fell 63 cents to $25.95 in morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

Reporting by Lewis Krauskopf, editing by Gerald E. McCormick and Derek Caney

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