Schering-Plough's stock took a dive this week after the news spread that sales of its troubled cholesterol drugs dropped significantly in November, after stablizing in October. Schering-Plough reported in its SEC filing this week that the number of prescriptions filled for Zetia were down almost 9 percent from October to November and Vytorin sales dropped 10 percent. According to IMS Health data quoted by Schering-Plough, overall cholesterol drug prescriptions filled fell by 6.7 percent in that same period, the Associated Press reports.
As you know, scrips for the troubled Vytorin have been dropping for some time. The decline slowed in June and seemed to stabilize in October. Analyst Seamus Fernandez of Leerink Swan LLC tells the AP that investors are overreacting: "To take monthly prescription numbers and panic about them doesn't make a whole lot of sense," he said. There are several likely explanations for the drop in cholesterol drug sales from October to November include the recession, higher drug co-pays, fewer "selling days" in November because of the Thanksgiving holiday and a decrease in visits by pharma reps to physicians, Fernandez explained.
Meanwhile, Merck's stock remained virtually unaffected, rising 62 cents to end at $27.74.