Merck continuing study of cholesterol drug in new class

Staff Writer
Columbus CEO

KENILWORTH, N.J. (AP) — Merck & Co. will continue a huge patient study of an experimental cholesterol medicine — the last one standing in a once-promising new drug class — after an independent monitoring committee recommended the study continue.

The recommendation follows the committee's review of data collected so far in the study of Merck's anacetrapib (an-ah-SET'-trah-pib). The 30,000-patient study, known by the acronym REVEAL, compares use of anacetrapib with statins, such as Lipitor, versus statins alone in reducing levels of bad cholesterol. It began in May 2011 and is expected to wrap up in 2017.

Three other experimental drugs in the class, called CETP inhibitors, were tested by Merck rivals but were scrapped because of safety issues or inadequate effectiveness.

The drugs are meant to prevent heart attacks and deaths from heart disease.