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Schering-Plough, Merck Say Allergy-Drug Filing Accepted

Schering-Plough and Merck Tuesday said U.S. regulators had accepted the marketing application for their experimental allergy drug, which combines two widely used existing treatments into a single tablet.

A joint venture between the two drugmakers is developing the product, which includes the active ingredients of Schering-Plough's Claritin allergy medicine and Merck's Singulair treatment for allergy and asthma.

The partners said the combination product would receive a standard review by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration -- which typically means the agency will respond within 10 months.

The active ingredient of Claritin, loratadine, is an antihistamine sold by a number of companies in over-the-counter forms.

The active ingredient of Singulair, a $4 billion-a-year drug available by prescription, is called montelukast. It works by controlling proteins called leukotrienes, which also trigger allergic symptoms such as stuffy nose and sneezing.

The Schering-Plough/Merck joint venture successfully developed and now sells Zetia and Vytorin, two popular cholesterol fighters that have been linchpins of growing profitability for the two drugmakers.