Wow, what a difference a year makes.
Last year, I wrote about how laughable it was that Merck
Now, nobody is laughing. It looks like Merck will just barely make the range it set out last year, and the company has guided for potentially lower adjusted earnings next year.
It's not just one problem for Merck, but a series of issues that have turned the company into a heap of stale drugs. Cholesterol-lowering drugs Vytorin and Zetia, marketed with Schering-Plough
Growth in sales of Merck's human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, Gardasil, has stalled as well. Sales are expected to be flat next year, assuming the company can get the vaccine approved for older women and to protect males from warts. That also assumes that GlaxoSmithKline's
The bigger problem for Merck is that it doesn't have anything to get the revenue growth back on track. The FDA turned down cholesterol drug MK-0524A, and now it won't be on the market until 2013 at the earliest. And development of its potential-blockbuster diet drug, taranabant, got canned after a phase 3 trial showed that, like Sanofi-Aventis'
Maybe the company should use some of its $6.8 billion in cash and investments to buy some new drugs, much like Eli Lilly