Merck & Co (US)
Merck regained a position among the world's leading pharmaceutical companies in 2010 after several years of struggles against multiple setbacks. The most serious of these were the repercussions from defects in its blockbuster arthritis medicine Vioxx. Merck withdrew that product in 2004 after publication of a report which demonstrated that it increased the risk of heart attacks in some patients. A series of lawsuits ensued, although for the most part Merck was exonerated of any fault and later announced a settlement to cover all subsequent suits. As if that were not enough to contend with, the company's flagship product Zocor lost its patent in 2006, and Merck seemed to have comparatively few other blockbusters in its pipeline. Yet the company has made a dynamic recovery since then, turning what appeared to be a clutch of minor vaccines into what are now substantial products. In 2009 it acquired smaller competitor Schering-Plough, already its partner in a global asthma and anti-cholesterol joint venture. In 2014, it took the decision to exit OTC consumer healthcare, selling its portfolio to Bayer of Germany for $14.2bn.
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Recent stories from Adbrands Weekly Update:
Adbrands Weekly Update 12th Jun 2014: Merck & Co, which recently agreed to sell its OTC portfolio to Bayer of Germany, has begun adding to its pharma portfolio with a deal to acquire biotech developer Idenix for $3.85bn. It saw off rival bids from AbbVie and Johnson & Johnson. The smaller company specialises in treatments for hepatitis C. Merck already has several products for this disease, but its position has been weakened by the spectacular success of Sovaldi, a new product from rival Gilead. Approved by the FDA only at the end of last year, Sovaldi has already become the fastest-selling drug launch in history, notching up sales of almost $2.3bn in just its first quarter on-sale, almost double analysts' forecasts.
Adbrands Weekly Update 8th May 2014: As was widely expected, Bayer triumphed in the auction of Merck & Co's consumer healthcare portfolio, securing that prize with a lavish offer of $14.2bn, around seven times revenues. The combined business will have annual revenues of over $7.0bn. Bayer's portfolio of brands, which currently include Aspirin, Aleve, One-A-Day and Supradyn vitamins among others, will be joined by Merck's mostly North American brands including Claritin, Coppertone suncare and US rights to Dr Scholl's footcare. Rival bidder Reckitt Benckiser dropped out of the auction last week.
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