Merck's Clark: Stay the course

Merck CEO Richard Clark (photo) has his work cut out for him this year. The turnaround miracle man lauded last year for pulling the embattled company out of a slump now faces new challenges: managing the fallout from the controversial Enhance study of blockbuster cholesterol med Vytorin; ushering two potentially big new drugs through FDA approvals at a time when the agency is increasingly cautious; withstanding a patent challenge on the blockbuster heartburn med Nexium; making up for Fosamax sales sure to be lost now that the osteoporosis treatment has gone off-patent.

Merck stock has dropped by about a third off its December high of $60.77 (but that's  partly because of the overall decline of the market). And analysts are calling the next few months "critical" to the share price. "They'll determine whether the decline in the stock is an overreaction or a legitimate relection of the value of the company," one told the Wall Street Journal.

"I am frustrated," Clark told the WSJ, saying that he wants employees to stay focused on the five-year plan he set forth in 2005. But, he says, "[m]y responsibility is to take a long-term view, and not just a short-term one. The stock decline is a bump in the road, a setback, but our plan to win is long-term."

- read the WSJ article