Merck | 2017

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U.S. Revenue: $22.1 billion (up 6.8%)

Global Revenue: $39.8 billion (up 0.8%)

Top Brands: Januvia ($6.1B), Zetia ($3.7B), Gardasil ($2.2B), Proquad ($1.6B), Keytruda ($1.4B)

R&D Spend: $7.2B (up 7%), 18% of revenue

Upcoming Patent Expirations: Zetia

The Kenilworth, New Jersey, company expects 2017 to produce the same worldwide sales scenario as last year. Yet despite the cautious outlook, stock prices are hovering higher than they were at this time in 2016. Gaining approval for advanced melanoma, Keytruda might just be the shiny object beckoning investors from afar. Measuring against the same period in 2015, Keytruda sales grew an astounding 125% to $483 million in Q4 2016. That growth is sure to continue as Merck reaches for label expansions that could put the PD-1 inhibitor ahead of BMS' Opdivo in the treatment of NSCLC. Hepatitis-C drug Zepatier made a splash during its freshman year due to an aggres­sive pricing scheme, but market forces are sure to stunt future growth. On a related note, Merck will take a $2.9 billion write-down on its experimental hep.-C drug MK-3682, citing shifting expectations for pricing and market opportunity. Top-sellers such as diabetes drugs Januvia and Janumet and HPV vaccine Gardasil should lessen the sting of cholesterol powerhouse Zetia's impending patent expiration. Januvia and Janumet, however, are bracing for competition from the new kids in the diabetes class: GLP-1 ­agonists and SGLT-2 inhibitors from Eli Lilly, Johnson & Johnson, and others.

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