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Late Friday the makers of Claritin and Singulair announced that the FDA has rejected an application for a pill combining the two drugs. Singulair, sold by Merck, is a popular medication used to treat asthma and combat allergies. Claritin, produced by Schering-Plough, offers a variety of OTC and prescription medications to treat the symptoms of allergies. The thought was that the combination of the two pills could provide a better solution for some patients by offering a congestion aid that is not demonstrated by the medications when administered separately. The FDA claims that several years of research failed to show an advantage when combining the two medications when treating seasonal allergies.


Combo pills just aren’t causing a lot of happiness for Merck and Schering-Plough these days. The companies have been dealing with a firestorm over blockbuster combo pill Vytorin, which they market jointly. So we raised our eyebrow a bit upon reading a quote that Schering-Plough spokeswoman Lisa Ellen gave to Reuters after the Singulair-Claritin news came out: “We’re still looking at it, and still evaluating the future of the joint venture as well.” The comment inspired a headline on a post at the blog PharmaGossip that read, “Merck and Schering Plough — allergic to each other?”


Who know what the future is for combo pills, but for time being this might be the best thing that could happen for Merck and Schering Plough. With lawsuits mounting over Vytorin and the volatility of the pharmaceutical industry, maybe this denied application is just what the doctor ordered.

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