Cholesterol Rx Recalled

Merck recall of Liptruzet cholesterol medication might lead to possible shortages

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD Beth Bolt, RPh

(RxWiki News) We count on prescription medications for our health, but just like fresh foods, they can be subject to recall. A recent medicine recall might lead to shortages for some patients.

Pharmaceutical company Merck recently announced that it is voluntarily recalling a cholesterol medication called Liptruzet due to a packaging problem.

The company warned that the recall might lead to shortages of the medication, though both active ingredients are available separately.

"Talk to your doctor before stopping use of prescribed medication."

The medication sold under the brand name Liptruzet is a combination of two medicines — ezetimibe and atorvastatin. The product, which was put on the market in May 2013, works to both slow the amount of cholesterol the body produces and prevent the body from absorbing cholesterol from food.

Merck announced the voluntary recall of all Liptruzet tablets (including 10/10 milligram, 10/20 milligram, 10/40 milligram and 10/80 milligram tablets) from wholesalers in the United States and Puerto Rico that were distributed since the product was placed on the market.

According to Merck, the company is not recalling the medication from pharmacies or from patients.

"Patients may continue taking Liptruzet in their possession as prescribed by their health care provider," Merck said in a statement.

"Some of the outer laminate foil pouches may allow in air and moisture, which could potentially decrease the effectiveness or change the characteristics of the product," explained Merck.

However, the company stressed that recall was not being made in response to any reports of illnesses or complaints and that the likelihood of the packaging issues interrupting the medicine's performance was low.

"The recall will deplete all available supply in the US, and stock-outs are expected," noted Merck.

But according to the company, both active ingredients are still available separately. Ezetimibe is sold under the brand name Zetia by Merck and atorvastatin is sold as a generic medication by a number of companies.

According to the American Heart Association (AHA), when too much of the "bad" type of cholesterol (called LDL) develops in the blood, it can build up in the arteries and eventually contribute to an increased risk of heart disease, heart attack or stroke.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimated that around 71 million American adults (33.5 percent of the population) have high LDL cholesterol.

Merck noted that it is working with the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on the Liptruzet recall and will resupply the medication as soon as possible.

Review Date: 
January 15, 2014
Last Updated:
January 15, 2014