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Merck rises as trial continues

The big pharma's shares gapped up 3.2% to 45.04 after Merck (MRK) announced that the Data Safety Monitoring Board recommended continuing the Improve-It trial, a giant study aimed at proving that the cholesterol drug ezetimibe, used in Zetia and Vytorin, prevents heart attacks and other "adverse events." Expectations for the trial on Wall Street had been low. Some earlier studies suggested possible increased risk of cancer and even thickening of the arteries — the opposite of the drug's intended effect.