Merck Needs More Data for Cholesterol Drug

NEW YORK ( TheStreet) - Pharmaceutical company Merck ( MRK) has to provide the U.S. Food and Drug Administration more information before it can get approval for its cholesterol-fighting drug combination of ezetimibe and atorvastatin.

"Merck plans to discuss next steps with the agency in the near future, including new data that are expected to be available later this year, which may address the FDA's comments," the company said in a statement on Monday.

Atorvastatin's brand name is Lipitor, which is rival Pfizer's ( PFE) most successful drug. Pfizer lost exclusivity for this drug on Nov. 30; analysts anticipate that the company can hold onto about 40% of its market share during the first six months following the exclusivity loss.

Shares of Merck rose 1.42% in Monday afternoon trading to $38.47.

TheStreet Ratings gives Merck an A- grade with a buy rating and $43.65 price target. The stock has risen 2.04% year to date.

-- Written by Alexandra Zendrian

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