Merck CFO: Don't overestimate emerging market gains

Merck CFO Peter Kellogg cautioned against overestimating the sales gain that drugmakers can get by expanding in emerging markets.

"Remember that emerging markets are very small today from a pharmaceutical sales standpoint," Kellogg said at the Jefferies 2010 Global SpecPharma & European Healthcare Conference in London, as quoted by Bloomberg. "In China, the top Western pharmaceutical company only has about three or four percent market share. So don't get the sense that these markets have market leaders that are taking off."

Kellogg's comments come a month after Michel Vounatsos, president of the company's China operations, told Reuters that rapid expansion of medical spending in China, where the government is introducing a new health safety net, could help propel China to one of Merck's top five global markets within the next 10 years.

And Kellogg acknowledged that Merck expects to derive more than 25 percent of its worldwide pharmaceutical and vaccine revenue from developing countries by 2013. Those markets currently account for around 18 percent of those sales, he said.

China in particular has been getting a lot of press as the go-to place for drugmakers. Last month, Roche said it plans to boost its Chinese workforce by 25 percent this year--even as it cuts jobs in the U.S. and EU. And in July, Merck was negotiating a partnership with China's Sinopharm Group, aiming to sell its vaccines--and perhaps prescription drugs--in that country. The two companies say they're working on a deal to commercialize Merck's human papillomavirus shot and other "mutually selected" vaccines for the Chinese market.

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ALSO: After creating a "level-playing field" for Chinese telecom companies doing business in India, New Delhi has asked Beijing to reciprocate by creating opportunities for its infotech and pharma industry. "Our bilateral trade is expected to cross $60 billion in 2010, making China once again India's largest trade partner. News

AND: NeedyMeds, a national nonprofit, is pleased to announce that it has received a $100,000 grant from the Merck Company Foundation, which will be used to increase awareness of patient assistance programs to those in need. NeedyMeds will use the funds to translate its website into Spanish as well as work closely with various health care clinics to increase their knowledge of and access to patient assistance programs. NeedyMeds release