Merck yesterday announced earnings which beat expectations. Most important, the increased 2008 earnings increased the 2008 company scorecard results.
I’m no fan of el Presidente Bush, as anyone who reads my blog will know. That being said, I wholeheartedly disagree with the assessment, repeated here, that the FDA has been “a wholly owned subsidiary of the pharmaceutical industry”.
Research has been done that has shown that FDA approvals rates are actually falling, especially in the wake of the COX-2 market withdrawls (VIOXX, Celebrex) in 2004. Pharma companies are increasingly finding it easier to get new products approved in Europe and other countries around the world but not in the US. Within Merck’s product suite, several products, including Arcoxia and ER niacin/laropiprant, cannot make it through the FDA without significant additional investment in research studies. The reality has been that the FDA has become significantly more conservative in its approach to approving new drugs under the Bush administration, not less.
The NY Times has a balanced, in-depth article on the benefits and drawbacks of Merck’s and GlaxoSmithKline’s efforts on the cervical cancer front. They recount the marketing efforts behind the vaccine as well as the questions surrounding the cost / benefit analysis that exists.
In the Merck news category, the overall news is less than stellar these days. On the one hand, there’s some news about Whitehouse Station that should be interesting – we’re adding an array of solar panels in some of the open field area later this year. On the downside, earnings guidance wasn’t provided and clinical trial news continues to be negative overall.
There’s nothing like coming back in to the office after a few days off to be greeted with over 250 emails. And with our handy dandy e-mail capacity restriction that blocks us from sending e-mail if we have too much already accumulated in our mailbox, it will take until the end of the day before I can reply to anything.