Merck highlighted evidence of a rising response rate to its closely watched immunotherapy MK-3475, spotlighting an 81% overall survival rate for advanced melanoma patients after 12 months of therapy with 41% of all patients demonstrating tumor shrinkage--rising to an impressive 51% for one group at the high end of the dose range.
Merck's manufacturing network continues to take a beating as the drugmaker acts on its $2.5 billion cost-cutting manifesto which is slated to claim 8,500 positions worldwide in the face of patent losses and revenue shortfalls. Next up, two facilities in Puerto Rico.
New rules for prescribing statin drugs could double the number of people taking them--or not. They could help AstraZeneca pump up sales of its high-powered Crestor--or not. What they will do--most likely--is undercut Merck's cholesterol drugs Vytorin and Zetia, along with AbbVie's fenofibrate-based lipid meds TriCor and Trilipix.
Novartis and Pfizer are in the process of spinning off units. Abbott Laboratories set its pharma business free at the beginning of this year. Why wouldn't Merck decide to join the slim-down club?
A competitor is threatening to chip away at sales of Merck's human papillomavirus vaccine Gardasil. Fortunately for Merck, it is the company developing the rival.
Last month's news that Merck is to lay off 8,500 staffers began speculation as to exactly where the ax would fall. Since then, pink slips have begun circulating and the fate of staff at the manufacturing unit has become clearer: 500 workers at the West Point plant will start the New Year looking for a new job.
Merck may be playing catch-up in the race to develop the first all-oral combo treatment for hepatitis C, but it made a good case over the weekend that it has a real contender in the pipeline.
Merck believes it can win near-term approval for a new HPV vaccine that will do better than Gardasil in guarding women against the virus that causes cervical cancer. But the vaccine's estimated peak sales potential won't relieve the company's migraine over weakening drug sales.
For West Point, PA, Merck giveth and Merck taketh away. In the midst of significant downsizing, right now Merck is taking away 500 jobs from the extensive facility there.
The layoffs and cuts outlined by Merck earlier this month showed the faith it has in the vaccine unit to drive growth over the coming years. And this week brought fresh data to back its decision, with third-quarter results showing strong demand for vaccines propping up other struggling areas of the firm.