Merck awaits vote from FDA advisory panel on new use for cholesterol drug

    Merck is waiting on a vote due Wednesday from a panel of non-government FDA advisers on a new use for cholesterol drug Vytorin.

    The FDA says Vytorin helps reduce heart attack, stroke and related problems in patients with kidney disease, a potential new use for the blockbuster drug. On top of that, the agency found no new safety concerns with the drug, which was flagged in 2009 for potential cancer risks.

    Merck is asking the FDA to approve Vytorin for the new use; it’s already cleared to reduce bad cholesterol, as the Associated Press reports. Vytorin combines cholesterol pills Zocor and Zetia, and has been found to lower kidney disease patients’ heart-related problems by 16 percent compared with the placebo.


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