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Merck Halts Sales of Cholesterol Drug Outside U.S.

Merck & Co. will stop selling the cholesterol drug Tredaptive, marketed outside the U.S., after a the treatment was shown to be ineffective and potentially harmful in a study.

The medicine is approved in 70 countries and sold in 40, the Whitehouse Station, New Jersey-based company said in a statement today. Merck said last month it wouldn’t seek U.S. approval after findings revealed Tredaptive didn’t reduce heart attacks or stroke and led to non-fatal serious side effects.

Tredaptive combines the vitamin niacin and the medicine laropiprant, added to reduce a face-flushing effect of the drug. The pill generated less than $20 million in 2012. A risk-assessment committee had recommended to European regulators that sales be suspended because of the safety concerns.

“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,” Michael Rosenblatt, Merck’s chief medical officer, said in the statement.

Merck rose 1.1 percent to $43.23 at the close of New York trading.

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