NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- Shares of Merck & Co. (MRK) are up 0.73% to $59.50 after the embattled drug Zetia proved effective at reducing risk of heart attacks, strokes and other heart problems in a large, long-awaited trial, marking a new milestone in the 40-year-old battle to fight cardiovascular disease by lowering cholesterol, the Wall Street Journal reports.
The benefit was modest, a 6.4% reduction in all cardiovascular events, in a high-risk, aggressively treated population of patients, according to the Journal, but it was the first time a drug outside of the blockbuster statin class of cholesterol-lowering medicines was shown to lower the risk of serious consequences of cardiovascular disease.
What impact this may have on sales of Zetia and Vytorin is not clear, the Journal said, noting that Zetia loses patent protection in two years; however, the study may be a boon for makers of a new class of low-density lipoprotein (LDL)-reducers called PCSK9s. They are being developed by Sanofi SA (SNY) and Regeneron Pharmaceuticals (REGN) , the Journal added.
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Shares of Sanofi are up 1.84% to $47.56. Shares of Regeneron are up 2% to $403.09.
Separately, TheStreet Ratings team rates MERCK & CO as a Buy with a ratings score of B+. TheStreet Ratings Team has this to say about their recommendation: