Merck blood thinner gets 'yes' vote from FDA panel

AP News
Posted: Jan 15, 2014 4:18 PM

WASHINGTON (AP) — A panel of federal experts has recommended approval for an experimental blood thinner from Merck despite serious side effects including internal bleeding.

The Food and Drug Administration's panel of cardiology experts voted 10-1 Wednesday in favor of approving the pill vorapaxar to help prevent blood clots in patients with a history of heart attacks.

Many analysts had written off the drug due to safety concerns. Two large studies from Merck found that the drug significantly increased bleeding, including dangerous bleeding inside the skull. But when the drug was limited to patients who had no history of strokes, it also helped reduce heart attacks, strokes and death.

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Merck & Co. has asked the FDA to approve the drug for this narrower group of patients.