Merck & Co. reports 8% Q1 worldwide sales drop
WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J. Merck & Co. said its merger with Schering-Plough was “progressing as planned” in its first quarter 2009 financial report Tuesday.
That news coincided with worldwide sales of $5.4 billion, an 8% decrease from the same period last year, including a 3% decrease due to foreign exchange rates, reduced by a further 3% due to the loss of market exclusivity for the osteoporosis drug Fosamax (alendronate sodium). Net income for the quarter was $1.425 billion, compared with $3.3 billion in first quarter 2008.
The company reported augmenting its pipeline by signing agreements with Insmed, Cardiome, Santen, Medarex and Massachusetts Biologic Labs, but delayed filing for regulatory approval of the investigational migraine drug telcagepant.
“Our first-quarter results in part reflect the impact of the difficult global economy on patients, providers and payers, but we remain on track to meet our full-year earnings guidance,” president and CEO Richard Clark stated. “We believe our planned merger with Schering-Plough will accelerate Merck’s transformation into a global healthcare leader, built for sustainable growth and success.”
Express Scripts reports record lows in prescription trends
ST. LOUIS One of the country’s largest pharmacy benefit managers said Monday that prescription drug cost trends decreased to record lows last year.
Data from Express Scripts indicated that the trend resulted from greater use of generic drugs and low-cost branded drugs, the PBM said. The overall pharmacy cost trend for clients of the company was 3% for 2008, down from 5.5% the year before.
The company calculated the data by evaluating total prescription costs for traditional and specialty drugs, including patient copays and payments by plan sponsors such as health plans and employers.
“Using generic drugs that are safe and effective can help lower costs while still driving value for patients and employers,” stated Steven Miller, Express Scripts chief medical officer and SVP . “Our results indicate that cost control is achievable through careful management of appropriate use of drugs and delivery channels, without shifting costs to consumers.”
The company said that additional opportunities for savings remain. Consumers wasted an estimated $42 billion in 2008 by not finding appropriate, lower-cost alternatives to expensive branded drugs. The researchers based the estimate on potential savings for the total U.S. population in 13 drug-therapy classes, using a sample size of 3 million people.
GSK to acquire Stiefel Labs to create specialist dermatology business
LONDON Days after it announced a plan to combine its HIV business with that of Pfizer, GlaxoSmithKline said Monday that it will acquire another company to create a specialist business for developing skin medications.
GSK will acquire Stiefel Labs for $2.9 billion, as well as $400 million in debt that it will incur at the closing of the deal, and a further $300 million in cash depending on future performance. GSK will combine its existing dermatology business with that of Stiefel, which will continue to operate under the Stiefel name within GSK.
“As part of our strategy to grow and diversify GSK’s business, we are continuing to make new investments through targeted acquisitions,” GSK CEO Andrew Witty said. “This transaction will create a new world-leading, specialist dermatology business and re-energize our existing dermatology products.”
The British drug maker announced last week that it and Pfizer would spin off their HIV divisions and form a new company to develop and market HIV drugs. The Stiefel acquisiton comes amid a wave of large-scale acquisitions among drug companies, including Pfizer’s purchase of Wyeth, Merck & Co.’s acquisition of Schering-Plough and Roche’s acquisition of Genentech.