Merck Revenues Fall in Quarter 3

Merck & Co have seen revenues drop by 4 per cent in their third quarter, as their diabetes blockbuster, Januvia, continued to show signs of weakness in the US.

Sales were reported to be $11 billion, with Merck’s DPP-4 inhibitor Januvia (sitagliptin) down 5% to $927 million.  Line extension Janumet (sitagliptin and metformin) fared slightly better, growing by 9% to $442 million.

Januvia used to be very successful within the US market.  However, the drug is now competing in the marketplace with other DPP-4 inhibitors, such as Eli Lilly’s Tradjenta, AstraZeneca/Bristol-Myers Squibb’s Onglyza and Takeda’s Nesina.

Adam Schechter, Merck and Co.’s president of human health, commented that the diabetes market within the US is flat and “with significant new competition, we must defend market share.”

Merck’s HIV drug Isentress (raltegravir) reached $427 million, a rise of 7%, while sales of cervical cancer vaccine, Gardasil, climbed 15% to $665 million.

The organisation’s anti-inflammatory products performed well, with Remicade (infliximab) – the Johnson & Johnson drug which Merck sells outside the USA – up 17% to $574 million and Simponi (golimumab) advancing 46% to $126 million, although Simponi was only marginally up in comparison to the second quarter of 2013.

Earnings per share for the company showed the pressure of the $2.2 billion in acquisition and restructuring costs, falling to $0.38 from $0.56 a year earlier.

Earlier this month, Merck announced plans to cut 8,500 jobs, in addition to the 7,500 already announced, to reduce their costs by $2.5 billion by 2015 and improve competitiveness.

Commenting on this programme, chief executive Kenneth Frazier said that it hinged upon “sharpening our focus on R&D” and prioritising the commercial elements of the business that will drive growth such as vaccines, diabetes and its oncology portfolio such as much-touted anti-PD1 drug MK-3475.

Merck announced that they will narrow their focus to products with the best chance of winning regulatory approval and achieving substantial sales.  This means that Merck will scrap some drugs already in late-stage clinical trials, while licensing products from other drugmakers.


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