Merck & Co Inc said on Tuesday its experimental cholestrol drug met the main goal of reducing coronary heart diseases in a late-stage study, sending its shares up 2.4 percent in premarket trading.
The study was testing Merck's drug, anacetrapib, in patients who were already receiving an effective LDL cholesterol lowering regimen.
Anacetrapib belongs to a class of drugs called cholesteryl ester transfer protein (CETP) inhibitor.
CETP inhibitors block a protein that transfers HDL cholesterol to LDL cholesterol, resulting in higher levels of HDL and lower LDL levels.
Statins, by contrast, work by reducing the liver's production of cholesterol.
Over the past decade, three experimental CETP inhibitors from Pfizer, Roche and Eli Lilly have failed in tests.
"In and of itself, meeting primary endpoint is a surprise … no other CETP inhibitor has been successful," said Evercore ISI analyst Umer Raffat in a research note.
Merck said on Tuesday it planned to review the trial results with external experts, and will consider whether to file new drug applications with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and other regulatory agencies.
The company's shares were up 1.64 percent at $67 in premarket trading.
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