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Generic competition for Singulair takes wind out of Merck's sales

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The entrance to Merck's Hunterdon County offices. Generic drug competition led to sales drops in the second quarter.
The entrance to Merck's Hunterdon County offices. Generic drug competition led to sales drops in the second quarter. - ()

Merck & Co Inc. reported an 11 percent drop in sales during the second quarter as increased generic competition pummeled sales of asthma and allergy drug Singulair.

The Hunterdon County drugmaker today reported revenue of $11 billion, down from $12.3 billion in the year-ago quarter.

Singulair represented the biggest drop in the global company's portfolio, declining 80 percent, to $281 million, from $1.4 billion in the second quarter of 2012. Singulair's patent expired last August in the United States and in February for Europe.

Most other Merck drugs reported higher sales, including a 1 percent uptick from diabetes drugs Januvia, its top seller, plus a 16 percent increase from diabetes drug Janumet and an 18 percent rise from Garadsil, a vaccine that treats sexually transmitted cancers.

The increases were not enough to offset the Singulair plunge.

"With seven of our top 10 products growing in the second quarter and solid performance overall, we continue to navigate significant patent expiries and adapt to the global health care environment," CEO Ken Frazier said in a statement.

Outside its pharmaceutical products, Merck reported a 2 percent drop in revenue for its animal health business, to $851 million, and an 11 percent decline in its consumer care business, to $490 million. The company also reported unfavorable exchange rates lowered revenue by 3 percent.

Earnings dropped nearly in half, to 30 cents a share, down from 58 cents a share in the second quarter of 2012. Net income fell to $906 million, from $1.8 billion last year.

Merck said without one-time charges, earnings would have reached 84 cents a share, or $1.1 billion net income.

Merck, based in the Whitehouse Station section of Readington Township, is relocating its headquarters to Summit, a move expected to be complete by 2015.

Shares fell 22 cents to $48.12 in morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

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