Health and Healthcare

Merck Wants Out Of Pfizer's Shadow

Stocks:  (MRK)(PFE)

Merck, along with most Big Pharma, wants to get as far away from the blast of Pfizer’s failed cholesterol drug launch as possible.

To that end, MRK announced that it will seek approval for three important drugs for cholesterol, insomnia, and HIV. The company said it would have four more drugs in late stage trials by mid-2007.

Merck has already said that earnings will be flat this year and up only slightly next year. It has also indicated that it will have to cut billions in expenses to bolster profitability. There is the spectre of Vioxx litigation.

The market does not seem to be impressed. Merck’s stock is flat at $44. Since Pfizer’s shares fell almost 10% on the bad news about its cholesterol blockbuster, Merck has managed to keep its shares fairly flat.

But, Wall St. is skeptical now. Pfizer made sure of that. It wants to see drugs out of trials and revenue from them replacing sales lost to generics. And, that may not happen.

Douglas A. McIntyre can be reached at [email protected]. He does not own securities in companies that he writes about.

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