WHITEHOUSE STATION, NJ ( TheStreet) --U.S. regulators on Friday approved a new hepatitis C drug from Merck ( MRK).

The new Merck drug, known as Victrelis, significantly increases the cure rate and shortens treatment for some patients diagnosed with the chronic liver disease. The decision by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to approve Victrelis was widely expected following a positive recommendation from an outside advisory panel last month.

Merck has not yet disclosed pricing for Victrelis, which is used in combination with long-acting interferon and ribavirin.

FDA is expected to issue an approval decision on Vertex Pharmaceuticals' ( VRTX) competing hepatitis C drug Incivek by May 23.

--Written by Adam Feuerstein in Boston.

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Adam Feuerstein writes regularly for TheStreet. In keeping with company editorial policy, he doesn't own or short individual stocks, although he owns stock in TheStreet. He also doesn't invest in hedge funds or other private investment partnerships. Feuerstein appreciates your feedback; click here to send him an email.

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