Merck is reporting success in its Phase III trial of a new cholesterol drug that combines a known ingredient with a new one that reduces the risk of an uncomfortable and common side effect. Cordaptive--which has been submitted for FDA approval--uses an extended-release form of niacin with another therapy that has significantly reduced the number of times patients experience "flushing," a reddening of the skin that is associated with a burning sensation. By week 24 in the study, patients taking Cordaptive reported one incident of flushing per month on average compared to one incident per week for patients taking niacin alone. Not surprisingly, the groups reported similar levels of cholesterol. Abbott, meanwhile, is advancing its own new version of Niaspan, which also is intended to reduce the number of incidences of flushing. The FDA is expected to make a decision on Cordaptive in the second quarter of '08.
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