Most drugmakers can only watch wistfully as sales of blockbusters fade into the horizon when generics come online. Merck had hoped to keep the memory of asthma drug Singulair's former stature alive by turning it into an over-the-counter (OTC) product. But an FDA panel of experts thinks that is too risky for consumers.
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.
The company has sent notices to 113 employees who will be let go when the plant closes in October. The drugmaker put the plant in Kenilworth on the hit list a couple years ago as it began consolidating facilities after its 2009, $41 billion buyout of Schering-Plough.
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.
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 $5 billion of its own shares from Goldman Sachs.
Union President Mark "Isy" Snyder recently informed workers that the company would like to go to 12-hour shifts since some processes take longer than 8 hours.
Merck CEO Kenneth C. Frazier today had to give shareholders the bad news and then he had to follow that up with the really bad news.
Today's look at AstraZeneca's ($AZN) bleak 2012 numbers highlights the market-crunching wallop many of the world's biggest pharma companies have suffered as megablockbusters like Plavix and Singulair have gone off patent. But a new analysis from EvaluatePharma concludes that the industry giants will have almost as much at stake again when the 2015 patent cliff arrives.
By the time the ball drops in Times Square this year, branded drug sales will have dropped 3.5%. So says a new report on U.S. spending, which pegs this year's decline at that rate--and forecasts an annual decline of 2.6%, on average, over the next several years.
For the second quarter in a row, Merck has surprised the market with a better-than-expected earnings picture. Job cuts and sales hustle helped Merck offset a 55% hit to its former top seller, asthma medicine Singulair, which went off patent in August.