On the Big Pharma scorecard, Merck remains on a downward slide. Yes, third-quarter earnings beat estimates, but expectations were low, and it was cost-cutting that delivered the day. And though the Singulair drag on Merck's top line is easing up a bit--pulling overall sales back by 4%, rather than 9% in the first quarter--the Januvia malaise continues.
As it announced cuts to its full-year sales forecast in July, Merck was able to point to growth in sales of Januvia and its offshoots, if only in the low-single-digit range.
The group of drugs, known as incretin mimetics, was cleared last week by FDA's counterparts in Europe.
Merck cut its sales forecast and posted a 50% drop in quarterly earnings as it continues to absorb major hits to its once-blockbuster Singulair. The fact that profits beat analyst expectations says as much about those expectations as it does about Merck's performance for the quarter.
Merck's Indian unit won an injunction in a patent fight over its diabetes drugs Januvia and Janumet, blocking generic versions of the two drugs to be made by Indian drugmaker Aprica Pharmaceuticals.
The prevalence of diabetes is growing globally, and with that the size of the diabetes drug market. But the market has gotten increasingly competitive and increasingly complex. All of the top 10 best-selling drugs in the diabetes category are blockbusters, according to EvaluatePharma. So who makes them? Check out the report >>
Pressure is building to take a deeper dive into the cancer risks of incretin mimetics, a class of drugs for Type 2 diabetes that includes blockbusters like Merck's Januvia and Novo Nordisk's Victoza.
Inconclusive data, confounding variables, as-yet-unreplicated results--they're all reasons critics have dismissed a link between incretin mimetics, a class of diabetes drugs including blockbusters Januvia and Byetta, and pancreatic cancer.
Generic competition, sales woes and R&D disappointments have put revenue on the decline and Merck in hot water, with the pharma giant earlier this month promising to buy back as much as $15 billion in shares. And yesterday, the company started in on a big chunk of that buyback, inking a deal to buy $5 billion of its own shares from Goldman Sachs.
Yesterday Merck's top executives spent a considerable amount of time trying to reassure analysts that the Big Pharma company is actively engaged in the hunt for new drugs needed to beef up a weak pipeline.