PHARMACY

Merck, Schering-Plough officially one company

BY Alaric DeArment

WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J. Merck & Co. and Schering-Plough Corp. began their first day as a single company Wednesday.

Merck announced the completion of its acquisition of Schering-Plough, which it moved to purchase in March for $41.1 billion, unveiling a dramatically redesigned Web site.

“With our merger now complete, we are ready to deliver on the promise of a new Merck built on a foundation of scientific innovation and dedication to the well-being of patients around the world,” CEO Richard Clark said in a statement. “On ‘Day One’ for the new Merck, we are stronger and better equipped to make a difference in the lives of people globally through our broadened, diversified portfolio of innovative medicines and vaccines and products for consumer and animal health.”

The new company has 106,000 employees in more than 140 countries worldwide and expects to generate more than 50% of its revenue outside the United States. It also has 15 late-stage drug candidates in its pipeline and a portfolio that includes new medicines, vaccines, OTC products and animal drugs.

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PHARMACY

Merck, Schering-Plough to complete merger

BY Alaric DeArment

WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J. Drug makers Merck & Co. and Schering-Plough Corp. will complete their merger Tuesday, Merck announced.

The two companies will begin combined operations Wednesday, with Schering-Plough adopting the Merck name and Schering-Plough stock becoming stock in the combined company.

The announcement of the merger follows recent clearance from regulatory authorities in China, Europe and Mexico, as well as the recent finalization of Pfizer’s acquisition of Wyeth.

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Bristol-Myers Squibb on Baraclude: Better efficacy than competitor

BY Alaric DeArment

BOSTON A Bristol-Myers Squibb drug used to treat hepatitis B kept viral load levels down more effectively than its competitor, according to study results announced by the company.

Bristol presented results in Boston Saturday at the American Association for the Study of Liver Disease’s annual meeting of a 48-week study comparing Baraclude (entecavir) with Gilead Sciences’ Hepsera (adefovir) in 191 patients with chronic hepatitis B infection with severe cirrhosis of the liver, also known as decompensated cirrhosis. Liver disease accounts for up to 25% of hepatitis B-related deaths.

Halfway through the study, 49% of 100 patients taking Baraclude had an undetectable viral load, compared with 16% of the 91 taking Hepsera. By the end of the study, 57% of Baraclude patients had an undetectable load, versus 20% of Hepsera patients.

“This study represents an important step in addressing an unmet medical need, as this is one of the first comparative studies to evaluate the safety and efficacy of antiviral therapy in this difficult-to-treat patient population,” said Hugo Cheinquer, study investigator and associate professor of gastroenterology and hepatology at the Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do Sul in Porto Alegre, Brazil. “Chronic hepatitis B is a lifelong disease, and these data suggest that treatment with Baraclude may offer chronic hepatitis B patients with decompensated cirrhosis a treatment option.”

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