No surprises here. Following the news that Vytorin, which is a combination of Merck's Zocor and Zetia, showed a statistically significant increase in cancer risk in a new study, Merck's stock prices began to plummet. Wall Street went bananas Monday, trading seven times the normal volume of Schering-Plough and three times the normal volume of Merck shares. However, on Tuesday, Merck kept dropping, while Schering-Plough got a reprieve. Merck stock prices fell by 11 percent ($4 per share), although Schering-Plough, Merck's partner on this one, saw an increase in share prices (up 96 cents). Merck hasn't been this low in two years.
Although the cancer findings were statistically significant, which generally sets the bar for data analysis in medical research, the researchers say that the increased number of cancer cases could be due to change. Nonetheless, this news didn't help Merck stock prices, which took a similar hit as a result of an earlier study that questioned the effectiveness of Vytorin.
Analysts say that news of either sort makes physicians more reluctant to make the drug a top choice and can make the public wary, too.