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Rare Mutation Mimicked by Merck’s Zetia Cuts Heart Risk

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A mutation that deactivates the same gene targeted by Merck & Co.’s cardiovascular drug Zetia leads to lower cholesterol levels and reduces heart disease risk by half, a study found.

A definitive study that will gauge Zetia’s ability to prevent heart attacks and death in most people with high cholesterol will be presented next week. The research could determine the future of Zetia and Vytorin, a Merck drug that includes Zetia with another medicine. Together they sold $4.3 billion last year.