Revenue was up 1% in the first quarter. The double-digit growth in six different drugs helped counter the 46% drop in sales of Cozaar/Hyzaar, which faces generic competition.
Asthma treatment Singulair and anti-inflammatory Remicade still top the best-seller list, but Januvia and its sister Janumet are climbing fast, with 45% and 52% growth respectively. Combined sales of the diabetes drugs now exceed $1 billion per quarter. Growth of the oral drugs doesn't seem to be phased by the fight for patients between Novo Nordisk's
Where Merck really shined was on the bottom line. Adjusted earnings per share increased more than 10% thanks to cost cutting and a slight decrease in the number of shares purchased through the buyback. Excluding one-time costs, gross margins were up, marketing and administrative expenses were down, and even research and development costs dropped a little.
That last bit should scare you a little. R&D is the backbone of a drugmaker's long-term success. On the bright side, it doesn't look as though Merck is mortgaging the farm, unlike Pfizer
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