FDA approves Merck cholesterol drug

Liptruzet combines active ingredients of Merck's Zetia, Pfizer's Lipitor

WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J. — The Food and Drug Administration has approved a new drug made by Merck for treating high cholesterol, the drug maker said.

Merck announced the approval of Liptruzet (ezetimibe and atorvastatin). The drug combines two preexisting cholesterol drugs: ezetimibe, which Merck markets under the brand name Zetia, and atorvastatin, which Pfizer markets under the name Lipitor. Both drugs are available as generics, but because Liptruzet is a novel combination of them, it required FDA approval as a new drug.

"A significant percentage of patients are unable to lower their [low-density lipoprotein] cholesterol to recommended levels despite treatment," Baylor College of Medicine professor Peter Jones said. "Along with a healthy diet, Liptruzet is an effective new lipid-lowering treatment option that may help address this unmet need as the complementary actions of its components can provide significant additional LDL lowering beyond atorvastatin therapy alone."


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