Merck’s MK-0616 While Still in the Early Clinical Stages Could Transform Bad Cholesterol Drug Market

Merck may be on to a winning therapy targeting the lowering of bad cholesterol.  Still in the early stages, two recent clinical trials evidence that a novel oral PCSK9 inhibitor was not only well tolerated but also appears effective for reducing LDL (low-density lipoprotein), also known as “bad” cholesterol—it also happens to be the most prevalent form of cholesterol. Higher levels of LDL mean greater risks for heart disease and stroke. In a recent American Heart Association (AHA) Scientific Session, Merck’s Douglas Johns, PhD, FAHA, clinical director of translational medicine/clinical pharmacology shared “Identification of PCSK9 inhibitors which can be delivered orally has proven to be a very difficult challenge for the industry.” But Merck’s data for its early-stage PCSK9 program known as MK-0616 looks highly promising and in fact some day could outshine injectable PCSK9 monoclonal antibody products from Amgen as well as Sanofi-Regeneron or even the RNAi therapy Leqvio® developed by Novartis.  Should this Merck early-stage investigational product advance with the same results in later studies, patients in the future should have access to a superior, bad cholesterol lowering prod...

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