R&D budget: $5.58B (€4.07B)
Change over 08: +21.6%
Income spent on R&D: 21.3%
After swelling enormously following its merger with Schering-Plough, Merck ($MRK) took a considerable amount of time before rolling out a plan for comprehensive downsizing in the middle of this year. With a particularly close eye on the facilities that it swept up in the merger, Merck detailed deep cuts, shuttering eight R&D facilities around the globe.
Merck also narrowed its research focus to seven key arenas: Cardiovascular disease; diabetes and obesity; infectious disease; oncology; neuroscience and ophthalmology; respiratory and immunology; and women's health and endocrine.
Like its competitors, Merck has voiced a big interest in partnering as it swears off an unproductive reliance on its in-house work. And the pharma giant has identified the biosimilar business as a big new focus as it beefs up the technology and staff it needs to gain future approvals on follow-ons.
Merck is also looking for some added R&D help among its fiercest competitors. In a deal that would have seemed unthinkable just a few years ago, Merck joined forces with Eli Lilly ($LLY) and Pfizer ($PFE) to create a new research group in China that will collaborate on new cancer drugs. And Merck followed Lilly's lead recently when it struck a five-year genomic research outsourcing deal with Covance, which took over its Seattle-based gene-expression lab.
The China gambit, collaborations, downsizing in the wake of a big merger--Merck is ringing all the bells in search of a more efficient drug discovery engine.