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Cardiome Falls Most Since 1999 After Merck Ends Drug Testing

March 19 (Bloomberg) -- Cardiome Pharma Corp. dropped the most in about 13 years after Merck & Co. ended development of a pill form of Cardiome’s injected drug for irregular heartbeat.

Cardiome plunged 54 percent to 88 cents at the close in New York. It was the biggest single-day decline for the stock since June 1999, according to data compiled by Bloomberg.

Merck told Cardiome it would stop development of an oral form of the drug, vernakalant, as a maintenance therapy for heart patients to prevent a recurrence of atrial fibrillation, Vancouver-based Cardiome said today in a statement. An injected form of the drug, known as Brinavess, is approved in Europe and Latin America, the company said.

“It is our understanding that vernakalant oral has continued to have a safe and effective profile as demonstrated by studies conducted since the product was licensed to Merck,” said Doug Janzen, president and chief executive officer of Cardiome. “We are extremely disappointed with the decision Merck has made.”

Merck, the second-largest U.S. drugmaker, is based in Whitehouse Station, New Jersey. Cardiome licensed the drug to Merck in 2009, Janzen said today during a call with analysts.

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrew Pollack in San Francisco at apollack1@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Reg Gale at rgale5@bloomberg.net

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