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FDA rejects wider use of J&J Xarelto for 3rd time

WASHINGTON (AP) -- Johnson & Johnson said Friday that the Food and Drug Administration has rejected — for a third time — its application to expand use of the blood thinner Xarelto to reduce dangerous blood clots and related problems in patients with coronary artery disease.

The condition occurs when narrowed blood vessels restrict blood flow to the heart, increasing the risk of heart attack and other potentially deadly problems

The FDA's rejection letter, announced by J&J, was expected after an FDA panel of experts unanimously voted against the broader use of the pill last month. The federal advisers said too much information was missing from company studies to accurately gauge Xarelto's benefit.

The FDA also rejected a second indication to reduce blood clots in patients who have received a stent, a mesh-metal tube used to open arteries that have been cleared of fatty plaque.

J&J said it a statement: "We are evaluating the contents of the letters and will determine the appropriate next steps."

The New Brunswick, N.J.-based company already markets the pill for several patient groups: Those with irregular heartbeats, those undergoing hip or knee replacement surgery, those who have developed a blood clot in the legs or lungs and those at risk of developing future blood clots in the legs or lungs.

J&J reported Xarelto sales of $246 million in its last fiscal quarter.

Johnson & Johnson shares rose 23 cents to $92.79 in midday trading.