- Marco Rubio: U.S. at social, moral crossroads
- ‘We’re coming for you, Barack Obama’: Top U.S. official discloses threat from ISIL
- White flags baffle NYPD: ‘We’re lucky it wasn’t a bomb’
- N.Y. Gov. Cuomo’s office interfered with, pressured corruption commission: report
- Brit lawmaker: I would fire on Israel if I lived in Gaza
- VA apologizes to forgotten Marine veteran locked in Fla. clinic, forced to call 911
- U.S. social and economic trends on worrisome track, survey finds
- McDonald nomination unanimously referred to full Senate
- Chuck Norris honorary chairman of NRA voter registration campaign
- GOP outraged Obamacare investigators able to get coverage with fake IDs
Merck ponders next step for troubled heart drug
Question of the Day
CHICAGO (AP) — Officials at drugmaker Merck & Co. say they will take more time to decide what to do about an experimental blood thinner that gave disappointing results in a second big study.
The study was aimed at preventing repeat heart attacks and strokes in people who had already suffered one or were in danger of one because of hardened arteries in their legs.
The drug, vorapaxar, lowered the risk of those problems but also raised the risk of major bleeding, including dangerous bleeding in the head, which largely canceled out the drug's benefit.
Results of the study were discussed Saturday at an American College of Cardiology conference in Chicago and published by the New England Journal of Medicine.
Merck had hoped vorapaxar would become a new, first-of-its-kind blood thinner.
The company-sponsored study involved more than 26,000 patients in 32 countries. All were given usual heart medicines plus aspirin, and half also received daily vorapaxar pills.
Safety monitors stopped part of the study last year after seeing higher rates of bleeding in the head among people with a history of stroke who were on the experimental drug. The study continued in the rest of the participants.
After three years, about 9 percent of those given vorapaxar had suffered a heart attack or a stroke or had died from heart-related causes versus more than 10 percent of those not given the drug. Moderate or severe bleeding occurred in about 4 percent of those on vorapaxar versus just more than 2 percent of the others, said the study's leader, Dr. David Morrow of Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.
Among those with a history of heart attack — two-thirds of study participants — the drug had a net benefit, though, leaving the possibility that Merck might pursue seeking federal approval to sell it for these patients.
However, several experts not connected with the study said the drug's relatively modest benefit and likely high cost would make it a tough sell even if it were allowed on the market.
"This is not a drug that I would put in my personal medicine chest," said Dr. Eduardo Marban of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles.
Merck officials said they would discuss the results with more scientists before deciding next steps.
TWT Video Picks
The subsidies are a hit with patients who don't exist
- Democratic Sen. John Walsh plagiarized War College master's thesis: report
- CARSON: Costco and the perils of mixing politics and business
- 'We're coming for you, Barack Obama': Top U.S. official discloses threat from ISIL terrorists
- Netanyahu's Wikipedia page replaced with giant Palestinian flag
- Obama orders Pentagon advisers to Ukraine
- Obama says public not familiar enough with issues
- House task force to recommend National Guard on border, faster deportations
- Hezbollah warring in Syria could join fight against Israel
- Tom Petty: 'No one's got Christ more wrong than the Christians'
- Hamas orders civilians to die in Israeli airstrikes
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq