A  A  A   Print
Merck Recalls Cholesterol Drug Liptruzet

Merck Recalls Cholesterol Drug Liptruzet

TUESDAY, Jan. 14, 2014 (HealthDay News) -- 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.

More information

For more on Liptruzet, visit RxList.

SOURCES: Deepak L. Bhatt, M.D., M.P.H., executive director of Interventional Cardiovascular Programs, Brigham and Women's Hospital Heart and Vascular Center, Boston; Kevin Marzo, M.D., chief of cardiology, Winthrop-University Hospital, Mineola, N.Y.

 
Today's Interactive Tools
Related Items

The third-party content provided in the Health Library of phoebeputney.com is for informational purposes only and is not designed to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease, or replace the professional medical advice you receive from your physician. If you or your child has or suspect you may have a health problem, please consult your primary care physician. If you or your child may have a medical emergency, call your doctor or 911 or other emergency health care provider immediately in the United States or the appropriate health agency of your country. For more information regarding site usage, please visit: Privacy Information, Terms of Use or Disclaimer.

Follow us online:

© 2014 Phoebe Putney Health System  |  417 Third Avenue, Albany, Georgia 31701  |  Telephone 877.312.1167

Phoebe Putney Health System is a network of hospitals, family medicine clinics, rehab facilities, auxiliary services, and medical education training facilities. Founded in 1911,
Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital (the flagship hospital) is one of Georgia's largest comprehensive regional medical centers. From the beginning, Phoebe's mission and vision
has been to bring the finest medical talent and technology to the citizens of Southwest Georgia, and to serve all citizens of the community regardless of ability to pay.