Product News and Recalls

Investors cautioned against Merck

An item on investing blog Seeking Alpha advises readers not to own stock in the pharmaceutical company Merck, in part because of safety risks associated with its products.

The item mentions a recent study published in the medical journal JAMA Internal Medicine. Researchers concluded that a type of drugs for type 2 diabetes called GLP-1 atagonists, which include Merck’s Januvia and Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Byetta, double a patient’s chances of developing pancreatitis. Based on that study, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced that it’s reviewing data on Januvia and Byetta.

Previous studies had linked Januvia and Byetta to a higher risk of pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer. Byetta has also been linked to an increased risk of thyroid cancer.

That likely threatens the growth of the Januvia franchise, which brought in $5.75 billion in 2012.

The item says that Merck’s cholesterol therapy Vytorin, which is a combination of Zetia and Zocor, is currently being evaluated in a long-term study to determine its safety effectiveness in preventing heart attacks. Several studies have showed that the combination of the two drugs yields no significant benefits.

The company faces another challenge in the approaching “patent cliff” for its asthma drug Singulair, meaning that it will soon face competition from generic versions. And Merck’s HIV treatment Isentress faces competition in the form of a more convenient treatment from Gilead Sciences.

You should consult with a doctor if you have any ongoing symptoms or health concerns, and before making any changes in medication. You should also consult with a Lopez McHugh attorney if you or a loved one was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer after taking Januvia or Byetta.

See the story here: