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Merck Focuses on Vaccines and Hospital Specialty Businesses in 2018

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May. 10 2018, Updated 11:55 a.m. ET

Hospital specialty business

In 1Q18, Merck’s (MRK) hospital specialty product, Bridion, reported global sales close to $204 million, which is a year-over-year (or YoY) rise of 38%. Since its launch in 2016, this product has managed to attain a significant share of the neuromuscular blockade reversal market. Currently used in multiple surgical procedures, Bridion has managed to witness favorable physician and patient adoption in the US.

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Vaccines business performance

In 1Q18, Merck’s vaccines portfolio reported global sales close to $1.5 billion, which is a year-over-year (or YoY) rise of 4.3%. In 1Q18, its human papillomavirus (or HPV) vaccine, Gardasil, witnessed sales close to $660 million, which is a YoY rise of 24%. The vaccine witnessed $380 million worth of sales in the US market, which was a 4% YoY decline mainly attributable to the increasing transition of patients to a two-dose vaccine regimen. This change is in accordance with the updated HPV vaccine recommendations from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s (or CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (or ACIP).

In ex-US markets, the vaccine reported sales close to $280 million, which is a YoY rise of around 109% mainly driven by increasing adoption of GARDASIL in international markets and especially in China since its launch in 2017.

Vaccine research programs

In April 2018, Merck announced the initiation of two phase three studies, evaluating its novel pneumococcal conjugate vaccine, V114, for preventing pneumococcal disease. The company expects this vaccine to be a highly effective, safe, and tolerable option for healthy adults as well as for adults that have been previously treated with HIV therapies.

Based on data from earlier studies, Merck expects this investigational vaccine to not only have a stronger response to pneumococcal serotypes targeted by other pneumococcal conjugate vaccines such as Pfizer’s (PFE) Prevnar franchise and GlaxoSmithKline’s (GSK) Synflorix, but also target other serotypes and thereby be more effective in preventing the disease.

In the next article, we’ll discuss growth prospects for Keytruda in fiscal 2018.

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