Bloomberg the Company & Products

Bloomberg Anywhere Login


Connecting decision makers to a dynamic network of information, people and ideas, Bloomberg quickly and accurately delivers business and financial information, news and insight around the world.


Financial Products

Enterprise Products


Customer Support

  • Americas

    +1 212 318 2000

  • Europe, Middle East, & Africa

    +44 20 7330 7500

  • Asia Pacific

    +65 6212 1000


Industry Products

Media Services

Follow Us

Merck Gains on Plans to Continue With Cholesterol Study

Don't Miss Out —
Follow us on:

March 12 (Bloomberg) -- Merck & Co. jumped the most since July after saying it will continue a closely-watched study of its cholesterol lowering drug Vytorin, easing investor concern that the drug may pose a risk to patients.

Merck rose 3.2 percent to $45.04 at 4 p.m. New York time for its biggest gain since July 27. The research, called IMPROVE-IT, is projected to continue until September 2014, the Whitehouse Station, New Jersey-based company said in a statement today.

Vytorin, with $1.7 billion in sales last year, combines the generic cholesterol drug simvastatin with Merck’s cholesterol drug Zetia, which generated $2.6 billion in revenue. Investors have been awaiting results of the study after researchers found in 2008 that Vytorin may not provide heart benefits over simvastatin, which is sold for a fraction of the price. That finding slashed sales of Vytorin and Zetia as doctors started prescribing lower-cost generic cholesterol medicines instead.

The announcement “suggests no safety issues,” said Mark Schoenebaum, an analyst with ISI Group in New York, in a note to clients. “If Zetia, Vytorin were unsafe, would you be comfortable waiting another 18 months to look at the data?”

Merck hasn’t seen trial results and no more reviews are planned, the drugmaker said. Under the current time frame, results won’t be available until about two years before Zetia’s patent expires, limiting the amount of sales Merck stands to lose if the final outcome is negative, Schoenebaum said.

To contact the reporter on this story: Shannon Pettypiece in New York at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Reg Gale at

Please upgrade your Browser

Your browser is out-of-date. Please download one of these excellent browsers:

Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera or Internet Explorer.