A combo pill from drugmaker Merck, which treats both diabetes and high cholesterol, is the first of it sort to win the approval of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA gave its stamp of approval for on Friday for the drug Juvisync, which is a combination of Merck's diabetes pill Januvia and the popular cholesterol drug Zocor.
Having both diabetes and high cholesterol can be dangerous for one's health. People living with both diseases are at an increased risk for heart attack, stroke and other chronic conditions such as kidney disease.
Juvisync is a fixed-dose combination prescription.
There are about 20 million people in the U.S. living with type 2 diabetes, and they also often have high cholesterol levels, the FDA said.
Dr. Mary H. Parks, director of the Division of Metabolism and Endocrinology Products in the FDA's Center for Drug Evaluation and Research, said the fixed-dose combination has been developed to meet the different needs of individual patients.
Dose selection should factor in what other drugs the patient is taking, she added.
According to The Washington Post, Juvisync will be sold for the same price as Januvia, which is about $215 per month. Generic versions of Zocor cost costs about $30 a month.
This provides a way to simplify their regimen and improve adherence, Dr. Susan Spratt, an endocrinologist at Duke University Medical Center, told The Post, adding that many diabetes patients take at least six pills daily. These pills are for treating diabetes, blood pressure and high cholesterol.
The new drug may help these patients be consistent with the amount of medication they should be taking.
Anything to reduce the cost is going to be helpful to patients, Spratt told The Post.
When you improve medication adherence, you actually lower health care costs because patients don't end up in the ER or the hospital, she added.