The U.S. Food and Drug Administration on Friday approved the Merck Co. drug Juvisync, the first pill designed to treat diabetes and high cholesterol at the same time.
Shares of the company jumped 1.08 percent to 31.76 dollars a share on Friday afternoon.
Juvisync combines Januvia (sitagliptin) and Zocor (simvastatin.) Januvia lowers elevated blood sugar to improve glycemic control in adults with type 2 diabetes and Zocor reduces the amount of bad cholesterol in the blood. The latter is one of Merck's best selling drugs.
"About 20 million people in the United States have type 2 diabetes, and they often have high cholesterol levels as well. These conditions can lead to increased risk of heart disease, stroke, kidney disease and blindness, among other chronic conditions, particularly if left untreated or poorly treated," the FDA said in a statement today.
The FDA said the single tablet will be available in six different dosage strengths, to meet patients’ specific needs.
According to Merck, 4 million diabetes patients in the United States older than 40 years old are not following a recommendation from the American Diabetes Association to take a cholesterol-lowering drug like Zocor.
"Perhaps one third of the nation's eligible patients with type 2 diabetes are not being treated with a statin, so here's a convenient tool for doctors to target glucose as well as cholesterol levels," said Dr. Sethu Reddy, Merck's director of clinical affairs for diabetes, according to the Associated Press.