Merck recalls cholesterol drug Liptruzet (Update)

January 14, 2014 by Dennis Thompson, Healthday Reporter
Merck recalls cholesterol drug liptruzet
Packaging problem could allow air, moisture to affect drug's effectiveness, company says.

(HealthDay)—Packaging defects have prompted a recall of a combination cholesterol drug called Liptruzet, produced by Merck & Co., temporarily affecting the entire U.S. stock.

Merck said the foil pouches holding Liptruzet pills could allow air and moisture inside, potentially decreasing the drug's effectiveness.

The recall covers all four dose strengths and every batch that's gone out since Liptruzet hit the market in May.

Liptruzet combines two medications that work together to reduce "bad" cholesterol levels:

  • Atorvastatin, the generic version of the widely used cholesterol medication Lipitor, which reduces the body's natural cholesterol production, and
  • Zetia (ezetimibe), a Merck-produced drug that decreases the amount of cholesterol absorbed from food.

Cardiologists expect no health problems to result from the recall, in part because both atorvastatin and Zetia will remain available separately.

"Patients are not going to be in any harm's way just going on atorvastatin until this packaging issue gets corrected," said Dr. Kevin Marzo, chief of cardiology at Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola, N.Y.

Marzo added that since the drug has been out for just a matter of months, it's unlikely that doctors have been prescribing it widely.

If a doctor feels a patient needs the combination treatment, then the doctor can prescribe both drugs individually and the patient can take two pills, said Dr. Deepak Bhatt, executive director of Interventional Cardiovascular Programs at Brigham and Women's Hospital Heart and Vascular Center, in Boston.

Patients can continue to take any Liptruzet they already have on hand, according to Merck, and should talk with their doctor before they quit taking it.

Bhatt said the real risk of this recall is that patients will hear about it and stop taking their cholesterol medication altogether.

"It should be relatively simple and even cheaper to substitute atorvastatin," Bhatt said. "Bottom line, this is something that can be addressed in a relatively straightforward way. The key is not to say, 'Well, I don't have to take anything in its place.'"

Liptruzet and Zetia each cost more than $5.50 per pill, while atorvastatin costs about a quarter per pill.

Merck said it plans to get Liptruzet back on the market as soon as possible.

Explore further: Merck: FDA wants more studies of insomnia drug

More information: For more on Liptruzet, visit RxList.

Related Stories

Merck: FDA wants more studies of insomnia drug

July 1, 2013
Drugmaker Merck & Co. says federal regulators have ruled that they won't approve high doses of its experimental insomnia medication because of concerns about their safety.

Merck warns doctors to stop prescribing Tredaptive

January 11, 2013
Drugmaker Merck says it is suspending its sale of the cholesterol drug Tredaptive and is telling doctors to quit prescribing the medicine.

Merck says FDA reviewing its ragweed allergy therapy

May 8, 2013
Drugmaker Merck & Co. says the Food and Drug Administration is reviewing its second application to sell a new type of allergy treatment meant to gradually reduce allergic reactions over time, rather than just relieving sneezing, ...

Germany's Merck suffers setback with cancer drug

December 19, 2012
German pharmaceutical company Merck KgaA says a late stage trial of a new lung cancer drug has failed to meet expectations.

Merck ends development of Parkinson's disease drug

May 23, 2013
(AP)—Merck & Co. says it is ending development of an experimental Parkinson's disease drug because the drug wasn't working.

Recommended for you

In most surgery patients, length of opioid prescription, number of refills spell highest risk for misuse

January 17, 2018
The possible link between physicians' opioid prescription patterns and subsequent abuse has occupied the attention of a nation in the throes of an opioid crisis looking for ways to stem what experts have dubbed an epidemic. ...

Patients receive most opioids at the doctor's office, not the ER

January 16, 2018
Around the country, state legislatures and hospitals have tightened emergency room prescribing guidelines for opioids to curb the addiction epidemic, but a new USC study shows that approach diverts attention from the main ...

FDA bans use of opioid-containing cough meds by kids

January 12, 2018
(HealthDay)—Trying to put a dent in the ongoing opioid addiction crisis, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Thursday slapped strict new restrictions on the use of opioid-containing cold and cough products by kids.

Taking ibuprofen for long periods found to alter human testicular physiology

January 9, 2018
A team of researchers from Denmark and France has found that taking regular doses of the pain reliever ibuprofen over a long period of time can lead to a disorder in men called compensated hypogonadism. In their paper published ...

Nearly one-third of Canadians have used opioids: study

January 9, 2018
Nearly one in three Canadians (29 percent) have used "some form of opioids" in the past five years, according to data released Tuesday as widespread fentanyl overdoses continue to kill.

Growing opioid epidemic forcing more children into foster care

January 8, 2018
The opioid epidemic has become so severe it's considered a national public health emergency. Addiction to prescription painkillers, such as oxycodone and morphine, has contributed to a dramatic rise in overdose deaths and ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.