An announcement from Merck that its medication Tredaptive (niacin/laropiprant) performed poorly in a trial received moderate coverage in print and online and was featured on one of last night's network news broadcasts. Most sources pointed out that the findings seem to challenge the theory that increasing HDL cholesterol will benefit patients, and that niacin, a component of the medication in question, should be used for this purpose.
The CBS Evening News (12/20, story 7, 2:05, Pelley) reported, "The drugmaker Merck said today a drug" called Tredaptive "that was thought to help prevent heart attacks has serious problems and Merck is now warning doctors overseas to stop prescribing it."
On the front of its Business Day section, the New York Times (12/21, B1, Thomas, Subscription Publication) reports that "Merck announced" that the drug "failed to protect against heart attacks and strokes in a large clinical trial, and that the company would no longer pursue approval of the combination drug in the United States." The study, "which followed more than 25,000 patients over four years, also found a statistically significant increase in the number of patients who suffered serious harm, although the company said those adverse events were not fatal."
The Wall Street Journal (12/21, B3, Weaver, Subscription Publication) reports that the medication, while not available in the US, is sold in approximately 40 countries.
The AP (12/21) reports, "The Food and Drug Administration rejected Tredaptive in 2008 pending more information about the drug's effects on the heart."
Reuters (12/21) reports that a European Medicines Agency spokesman said that EMA experts were looking into the most recent data on the medication and that the agency would issue a statement by week's end.
On its website, CBS News (12/21) reports that Merck "recommended that no new patients start taking the drug, but stopped short of saying current patients should come off it."
Bloomberg News (12/21, Cortez, Armstrong) reports, "The findings call into question the benefits of raising good cholesterol, one of the main methods pharmaceutical companies...are pursuing in their efforts to develop heart drugs."
Forbes (12/20) reports, "Although niacin, a natural vitamin, has been used for decades to raise HDL, a clinical benefit has never been demonstrated." Last year, "the NIH's AIM-HIGH trial found no benefit for extended-release niacin." The NPR (12/20, Knox) "Shots" blog and Heartwire (12/21, O'Riordan) also cover the story.