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Merck's Heart Failure Candidate Meets Goal in Phase III Study

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Merck & Co., Inc. (MRK - Free Report) and German partner Bayer’s (BAYRY - Free Report) investigational drug vericiguat met the primary endpoint in a phase III study of patients with worsening chronic heart failure.

The VICTORIA study evaluated vericiguat versus placebo when given in combination with available heart failure therapies in patients with worsening chronic heart failure with reduced ejection fraction (HFrEF) also known as systolic heart failure.

Data from the study showed that vericiguat reduced the risk of composite endpoint of heart failure hospitalization or cardiovascular death in such patients compared to placebo. Detailed results from the study will be presented at a future medical meeting.

Merck’s shares have risen 10.1% this year so far compared with the industry’s increase of 4.7%.



Heart failure affects more than 60 million patients globally. Despite huge progress made on addressing this disease, the cardiovascular event rates are high, creating a huge unmet need for new therapies to reduce the risk of death and hospitalizations. In the United States, 6.5 million people suffer heart failure and approximately 40-50% of these have HFrEF. Such patients frequently experience deterioration of the disease and an estimated one in five patients with worsening chronic HFrEF expires within two years.

Novartis (NVS - Free Report) Entresto is approved to treat HFrEF. Amgen (AMGN - Free Report) and partner Cytokinetics’s pipeline candidate omecamtiv mecarbil is in late-stage development for HFrEF. AstraZeneca’s SGLT2 inhibitor Farxiga is also being evaluated in two phase III studies for HFrEF and heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF).

Merck currently carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy). You can see the complete list of today’s Zacks #1 Rank (Strong Buy) stocks here.

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