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 WEST POINT, Pa., March 13 /PRNewswire/ -- Merck & Co., Inc.

(NYSE: MRK) today issued the following statement:
 The six U.S. pharmaceutical manufacturers of a commonly used class of high blood pressure drugs have undertaken a comprehensive communications program to highlight existing information about restricted use of these products during the second and third trimesters of pregnancy.
 The communications program draws additional attention within the healthcare community to existing warnings in the prescribing information for angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors. Healthcare professionals are being alerted by letter, and physicians and pharmacists will be supplied with warning stickers to be placed on prescription bottles.
 The program is being conducted in cooperation with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
 A warning also is being relocated at the beginning of the prescribing information and cautions that use of ACE inhibitors in the second and third trimesters can cause fetal injury and death. These fetal effects do not appear to be associated with exposure to the drugs limited to the first trimester of pregnancy. The warning is based on case reports conveyed directly to the FDA and by industry as part of the routine monitoring for adverse experiences that is conducted for all marketed products as well as reports in the medical literature.
 Of approximately six million patients currently taking ACE inhibitors in the U.S., an estimated five percent are women under 40. Uncontrolled high blood pressure in pregnancy can lead to complications for both mother and fetus. Pregnant women taking ACE inhibitors should contact their physicians promptly about switching to a different medication.
 Used in appropriate patients, ACE inhibitors have been shown to be highly effective and well tolerated in treating high blood pressure and, with select products, heart failure. The drugs, which are taken by an estimated 23 million patients in about 100 countries, work by interrupting a chemical chain reaction in the body that causes blood pressure to rise.
 ACE inhibitors currently marketed in the U.S., including single- agent and combination products, are:
 Bristol-Myers Squibb Company -- CAPOTEN, CAPOZIDE, MONOPRIL
 Ciba-Geigy Corporation -- LOTENSIN
 Hoechst-Roussel Pharmaceuticals -- ALTACE
 ICI Pharmaceuticals Group -- ZESTRIL, ZESTORETIC
 Merck Human Health Division -- VASOTEC, VASOTEC I.V., PRINIVIL,
 Parke-Davis Pharmaceutical Research Division -- ACCUPRIL
 (A) VASERETIC is promoted in the United States by The Du Pont Merck Pharmaceutical Company.
 -0- 3/13/92
 /CONTACT: A.B. Fiskett, 215-661-6681, or, home, 215-643-0538, or Jan Weiner, 215-661-6462, or, home, 215-664-8722 (media), or Gary Sender (analysts), 908-594-6883, all of Merck/
 (MRK) CO: Merck & Co., Inc. ST: Pennsylvania IN: MTC SU:

MK -- PH023 -- 7857 03/13/92 14:08 EST
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Publication:PR Newswire
Date:Mar 13, 1992

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