Merck takes the long road

Merck Phase III pipeline
Merck Phase III pipeline

Merck has had a tough couple of weeks, but today could break that trend. The company's annual business briefing this morning aimed to spotlight a better, brighter future, one that includes new markets and new initiatives.

As you know, the company announced last week that its product sales were slowing. Add currency-exchange effects and a weakening economy, Merck officials said, and you have lower-than-expected earnings projections for 2009. But, said CEO Richard Clark (photo) in a statement, the company is "building a sustainable model for success." Which sounds a lot like a request for analysts and investors to think beyond next year. So Merck officials sketched out some of those long-term plans, which Clark calls a "fundamental transformation" for the company.

First, like many other pharma firms, Merck is counting on emerging-market growth to help boost revenues and profits both. The company says it's on track to reach its goal of $2 billion in emerging-market sales. Second, it's going to venture into the nascent world of generic biotech drugs, which could become a big deal if Congress gets its act together to set up a regulatory pathway for those copycat meds.

- check out Merck's release
- see the Associated Press story