Strong diabetes drug sales, less spending thrust Merck into positive Q3

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Merck has reported a strong net income for the third quarter of 2009, which ended Sept. 30.

The Whitehouse Station, N.J.-based company said its net income for the third quarter was $3.42 million, compared with $1.09 million in the third quarter of 2008.

Worldwide sales for the third quarter of 2009 were $6 billion, an increase of 2 percent compared to the third quarter of 2008. Also adding to its positive results, Merck posted materials and production costs of $1.4 billion for the quarter, a decrease of 3 percent from the previous-year quarter. The third quarters of 2009 and 2008 include $27 million and $59 million, respectively, for costs associated with global restructuring programs.

Restructuring costs, primarily related to employee separations, were $42 million for the third quarter of 2009 and $757 million for the third quarter of 2008. As of Sept. 30, Merck said it had approximately 52,700 employees. The company said the total overall costs associated with its global restructuring programs included in materials and production, research and development, and restructuring costs were $117 million and $847 million for the third quarter of 2009 and 2008, respectively, primarily comprised of employee separations and accelerated depreciation.

The company said the combined global sales of Zetia (ezetimibe) and Vytorin (ezetimibe/simvastatin), as reported by the Merck/Schering-Plough partnership, were $1 billion for the third quarter of 2009, representing a 7 percent decline compared with the year-ago period. Global sales of Zetia, marketed as Ezetrol outside the U.S., were $514 million in the third quarter, a decrease of 4 percent compared with the third quarter of 2008. The third quarter 2009 global sales of Vytorin, marketed outside the U.S. as Inegy, were $514 million, a decrease of 9 percent compared with the same period in 2008.

Global sales of Merck's antihypertensive medicines, Cozaar (losartan potassium) and Hyzaar (losartan potassium and hydrochlorothiazide), were $861 million for the third quarter of 2009, representing a 3 percent decrease compared with the third quarter of 2008. Merck noted that it is expecting a significant decline in future Cozaar/Hyzaar sales since these medicines will lose marketing exclusivity in the U.S. and major European markets during the first half of 2010. (Cozaar and Hyzaar are registered trademarks of E.I. duPont de Nemours in Wilmington, Del.)

Januvia (sitagliptin), Merck's DPP-4 inhibitor for the treatment of type 2 diabetes, recorded worldwide sales of $491 million during the third quarter of 2009, representing a 30 percent increase compared with same quarter in 2008. Janumet (sitagliptin/metformin hydrochloride), a single tablet that targets the three defects of type 2 diabetes, achieved worldwide sales of $173 million during the quarter, an increase of 72 percent compared with the third quarter 2008, according to the company.