Healthcare Business

Merck Putting Vioxx Behind It (MRK)(PFE)

Vioxx lawsuit could drag on for years, even a decade. But, Merck is looking ahead. It confirmed 2006 guidance and said that 2007 would be in the range Wall St. hopes for.

The company is sending a signal that it will not be run to ground by generics. All of the major drug companies face this issue as their big sellers go “off patent”. But, Merck insists that its experimental drugs will get it back to double digit growth by 2010. The company has to hope that it does not run into the kind of problem Pfizer did when fatalities in the test of it new cholesterol drug force the company to pull it.

If the 2007 to 2010 period is not as good as Merck is forecasting, it may be a sign that even the largest of the Big Pharma firms cannot develop new products fast enough to replace old blockbusters.

Tough call.

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