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Merck has posted fourth-quarter profits of almost $5bn as it reaped the benefits of its acquisition of Serono, and the spin-off of its generic drug unit.
The German firm earned $4.9bn in the last three months of 2007, compared with $189m a year earlier.
Sales also increased to $2.6bn in the same period, against $1.75bn in 2006.
The company’s products include the multiple sclerosis drug Rebif (interferon beta 1a), and cancer treatment Erbitux (cetuximab).
Merck chief executive Karl-Ludwig Kley said the results show that the acquisition of Swiss biotech firm Serono was the right decision.
He added: “For Merck, 2007 was a year of major accomplishments – the successful integration of Serono, the sale of generics and a capital increase, resulting in a very low net debt at year end.
“We produced the strongest financial results in Merck’s long history, allowing us to recommend an increased regular dividend of 1.20 euro ($1.76) and a one-time bonus dividend of two euro ($2.93).”
He added that even “in these uncertain economic times, we expect 2008 will be another year of solid growth for Merck”.
Global sales of Rebif rose 10% in 2007 and 11% in the last quarter, while sales of Erbitux, which it licensed from ImClone Systems, jumped 40% in the year and 33% in the three months.
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