Merck yanks cholesterol drug Tredaptive from market

Merck ($MRK) is pulling the plug on Tredaptive, its once ambitious drug for raising good cholesterol, which the company acknowledged turned out to be generally ineffective and to have elevated health risks.

The drug never got approved in the U.S. but is sold in about 40 countries. Merck announced last month that it had failed in a large-scale study at lowering the risk of strokes and heart attacks, while raising some health concerns. The next day, regulators in Europe, where it is sold in some countries, said they would quickly review the new data and decide this month whether to change the drug's status there. The European Medicines Agency, had approved it in 2008 after the FDA had turned it down.

In a statement, Merck Chief Medical Officer Michael Rosenblatt said, "Patients currently taking Tredaptive are our priority, and we are committed to continue to work with regulatory agencies around the world to ensure that physicians have appropriate information as we take steps to suspend the availability of Tredaptive."

It is not as if Tredaptive was doing much financially. When it was first being introduced into the market, Merck was hoping it would be a billion-dollar seller. Last year, Bloomberg points out, it produced less than $20 million in sales.

- here's the release
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