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FDA Panel Rejects Merck Drug Move

The drugmaker sought regulatory OK to sell its prescription cholesterol drug over the counter.
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Another setback for



, although this one involved something of a long shot.

A Food and Drug Administration advisory panel Friday voted against the drugmaker's application to have the cholesterol drug Mevacor granted over-the-counter status.

It's the latest effort to have a prescription drug's status changed, or downgraded, to the more accessible OTC one.

Bristol-Myers Squibb


is seeking a similar change for its drug Pravachol.

In a related development, an FDA staff report Wednesday raised questions about how well consumers understand guidelines for Mevacor and how safely they would use it.

The agency usually goes along with the recommendations of its advisory committees.

A nonprescription version of Merck's drug Zocor has been available in the U.K. since July.

Merck shares rose 26 cents, or 0.8%, to $30.91.