Profit at Merck Falls in Fourth Quarter

Merck, the pharmaceutical giant based in Whitehouse Station, New Jersey, announced that profits fell in the fourth quarter of 2012 by 7%. Company officials said that was due in part to sales of Singulair, its best selling asthma medication, dropping because of competition from generic medications. The company also announced that it was postponing an attempt to have its osteoporosis medication approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The new drug had been highly anticipated.

Merck officials release the fourth quarter as well as full year results for last year. After the earnings report was released, shares of Merck fell by 3.3% to end at $41.82 for the week.

Singulair is taken by asthma patients once per day. In 2011, Singulair earned more than $5.49 billion and in the first half of 2012, the medication was earning its average of nearly $1.3 billion per quarter. Nevertheless, patent protection for the drug in the U.S. expired in early August and sales plummeted by over 96% in the last three months of the year, as the less expensive generic medication started to take hold in the market.

For 2012, sales at Merck worldwide for singular were just $3.9 billion, which represented a 30% drop from the previous year. At this time, Januavia is the current best selling drug for Merck. The drug is for people with diabetes and during the fourth quarter of 2011 sold $1.3 billion, while for the year sales were $4.1 billion.

Merck’s total revenue for 2011 was $47.29 billion, which represented a drop of 2% from revenue for 2011. However, Merck did turn a profit of over 6% for the year.