(Reuters) – Merck & Co Inc <MRK.N said on Monday an experimental treatment being developed with Bayer AG for patients with worsening chronic heart failure met the main goal of a late-stage study.

Compared to placebo, the drug, vericiguat, reduced the risk of heart failure hospitalization or cardiovascular death in heart failure patients with reduced ejection fraction (HFrEF) when given in combination with available therapies, Merck said.

HFrEF is characterized by the compromised ability of the heart to eject blood sufficiently during its contraction phase.

About 40-50% of 6.5 million heart failure patients in the United States have HFrEF, the company said.

A total of 5,050 patients with the condition who have a high risk for cardiovascular mortality and repeated heart failure hospitalizations participated in the study.

The company said the trial results will be presented at an upcoming medical meeting in 2020.

(Reporting by Manojna Maddipatla and Dania Nadeem in Bengaluru; Editing by Maju Samuel and Sriaj Kalluvila)