FDA has approved a new, coated version of Niaspan, a once-daily extended-release prescription niacin formulation for the treatment of lipid disorders.

The drug also has an ability to significantly raise HDL cholesterol. Abbott Laboratories of Abbott Park, Ill., markets the drug as unscored, film-coated tablets containing 500, 750 or 1,000 mg of niacin.

“Introducing a new coated tablet that may enhance patient convenience is an important factor in improving our ability to provide good cholesterol management for our patients,” said Richard Karas, MD, PhD, professor of medicine at Tufts-New England Medical Center in Boston.

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Abbott said that it planned to expand upon two published studies in determining the coatedtablet’s effect on flushing of the skin (the most common side effect of Niaspan) through larger clinical studies.