PharmExec Blog

Merck Shows Off Bevy of New Drugs

Litmus paper, 1934, Merck Corporation
Image by Chemical Heritage Foundation via Flickr

While Merck’s net profits might be a little low in the wake of the Schering-Plough merger, it’s pipeline—and future sales—are far from bleak.

According to a new report from analyst firm Deutsche Bank, Merck has no less than 18 drugs in Phase III development, with three slated for launch within the next year and a half. Another 25 therapies are in Phase II trials—a good chunk of which are “innovative therapies for unmet needs.”

The three drugs analysts are keeping a close eye on are: boceprevir, vorapaxar (TRA), and sugammadex. Here’s a little bit of info from the report on each of the treatments to get readers up to speed.

  • Boceprevir is a protease inhibitor for the treatment of hepatitis C virus is a Schering-Plough drug used for treatment naïve patients. A trial, expected to conclude any day now, is looking for improvement in patients taking the drug in combination with peginterferon/ribavirin as opposed to patients taking that treatment alone.
  • Vorapaxar (TRA) is a thrombin receptor (PAR-1) antagonist in development for the prevention and treatment of arterial thrombosis. TRA therapy showed a lot of promise in a large phase 2 study for potentially reducing ischemic events without increasing bleeding risk when combined with agents like Plavix.
  • Sugammadex (Bridiron) is a first in class, selective, relaxant binding agent for use in anesthesia that can encapsulate the commonly utilized muscle relaxants rocuronium and vecuronium, reversing and preventing their neuromuscular blocking action.

“Merck’s expanded base business, more diverse product portfolio and agile, increasingly lean cost structure, will support stable earnings per share growth over the next several years,” Deutsche Bank Analyst Barbara Ryan stated in the report. “Further, the Merck/Schering-Plough combined late stage pipeline has the potential to extend this record into the next decade.”

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