Cholesterol Drug Tredaptive Recalled Worldwide

First Posted: Jan 14, 2013 12:28 PM EST

If you were looking to increase your "good" HDL cholesterol, Tredaptive is definitely not the answer. Merck & Co Inc admitted last month that individuals taking the experimental medicine did not have a reduced risk of heart attack, stroke, necessary bypass surgery or death; instead, patients suffered an increased risk of several types of nonfatal but serious side effects.

Tredaptive combined an extended release form of niacin, a nutrient used to raise HDL cholesterol, and laropiprant, a drug meant to reduce the unpleasant skin flushing that is often a side effect of niacin therapy. While Tredaptive was never approved in the US, Merck sold the medicine in 40 other countries. Now, the company is taking the drug off of the market and is telling doctors to stop prescribing the medicine.

Although niacin has been used for years to increase HDL cholesterol, this latest trial has called into question whether there is an easy way to raise "good" cholesterol with the help of a drug. During Merck's study, people taking the medicine had more serious side effects than those taking a placebo.

Merck isn't about to give up, though. The company is currently developing a new drug, anacetrapib, which raises HDL cholesterol by an even greater magnitude than niacin. Findings for the late-stage testing of this new drug should become available as quickly as 2017.

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