The drug maker Merck released a statement on Tuesday saying that it was recalling a combination cholesterol drug, which will wipe out the entire stock in the United States, due to defects in the packaging, which might reduce effectiveness. The company explained that the recall covers all four of the dosage strengths and each batch that has been distributed since Liptruzet was sent out in May of 2013.
However, each of the active ingredients in the drug will stay on the market and be available separately. Liptruzet combined two drugs that worked in corresponding ways to reduce LDL levels. That is considered bad cholesterol. This is a common approach that is used to prevent strokes and heart attacks.
Merck, which is the third largest drug maker in the entire world, stated that some of the laminated outer pouches, which held the cholesterol pills, could let moisture and air leak inside. The company explained that there was a remote possibility that could cause a decrease in the drug’s usefulness or it could even change its very properties and character. However, the recall was not happening because of any patients reporting being affected.
One of Merck’s spokesperson’s explained that the Liptruzet sets were made by a United States manufacturer who was under contract with Merck.
Merck has a drug named Zetia, which is known chemically as ezetimibe, and it decreases the amount of cholesterol the body takes from food. The other ingredient is known as atorvastatin and it reduces the body’s natural creation of cholesterol.
Atorvastatin is the generic form of Lipitor. That drug was the top selling for cholesterol for almost 10 years until law said it was legal for companies to make generic versions of Lipitor about two years ago.
Merck remains selling Zetia, and numerous other businesses sell the inexpensive atorvastatin generic type. Liptruzet is priced over $5.50 a pill That is approximately the same amount as Zetia, while atorvastatin only costs about 25 cents per pill.
Patients are cautioned to consult their doctor before stopping Liptruzet. Merck is planning on getting the drug back on the market as soon as they can.
The medicine will not be taken from patients who already have it, and other medications from Merck are not affected by this recall.
Merck stated that it is hard at work with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to get the word out to all U.S. wholesalers. The company has of late reported an earnings drop on sales that had become weaker due to the loss of being able to sell the drug Singular for allergies and asthma exclusivity.
The company is in the middle of a worldly restructuring in order to improve its research and commercial focus. This move has included major job cuts, termination of drug research and closing of various offices in order to try and save over $2 billion a year by the time 2015 arrives.
Merck’s stock shares have dropped nearly 1.5 percent in recent trading. With the announcement that the company is recalling a combination cholesterol drug, due to defects in the packaging, is sure not to help the stock go up.
By Kimberly Ruble
The Brandon Sun