Today is world diabetes day (Merck ends MK-0431E)

As WHO and other organisations are celebrating World Diabetes Day (WDD) it is always sad to read that a new potential drug is stopped.

This time Merck & co. stopped the clinical trial MK-0431E studying the co-administration of Sitagliptin and Atorvastatin in inadequately controlled Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus. Merck cites “business reasons” without further explanations.

Sitagliptin is sold under the trade name Januvia. It is an oral antihyperglycemic and one of the (if not the) best selling product of Merck with US$975 million revenue in the third quarter of 2012. On the other hand Atorvastatin is a statin lowering blood cholesterol. It was a blockbuster for Pfizer (sold under the trade name of Lipitor) until its patent expired.

Combining these two molecules made biological sense in order to reduce the number of medications that diabetic patients take. Of course combining two blockbusters (including one which patent expired) is a nice attempt to maintain drugs and positions on market.