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Merck & Co. Ups 2024 Profit Forecast Amidst Stellar Drug Sales Performance

Merck & Co. has announced an upward revision of its 2024 profit forecast, citing robust sales performance for its flagship products. The company’s latest financial projections reflect strong momentum driven by the continued success of its blockbuster cancer drug Keytruda and the human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine Gardasil.

The revised forecast, unveiled on Thursday, reveals an optimistic outlook for Merck’s financial performance, with anticipated earnings per share ranging between $8.53 and $8.65. This upward revision represents a notable increase from the previously estimated range of $8.44 to $8.59 per share. Additionally, Merck expects its annual sales to fall within the range of $63.1 billion to $64.3 billion for the year, further underscoring the company’s confidence in its revenue-generating capabilities.

Merck’s buoyant financial outlook incorporates a $0.26 per share charge related to its recent acquisition of Harpoon Therapeutics, a cancer drug developer. The acquisition, valued at $680 million and finalized in the first quarter of 2024, aligns with Merck’s strategic objectives to bolster its oncology portfolio and advance its pipeline of innovative therapies.

Analysts had initially projected more conservative figures, with estimates averaging annual earnings per share of $8.56 and sales of $63.83 billion. However, Merck’s stellar first-quarter performance exceeded expectations, with adjusted earnings per share reaching $2.07, surpassing analysts’ estimates of $1.88 per share. Furthermore, the company reported first-quarter sales of $15.8 billion, marking a noteworthy 9% increase from the previous year and surpassing average analyst predictions of $15.2 billion.

Keytruda, Merck’s leading cancer immunotherapy drug, continues to be a standout performer, with first-quarter sales soaring to $6.9 billion, representing an impressive 20% increase from the previous year. The drug, hailed as the world’s top-selling drug in 2023, remains a cornerstone of Merck’s revenue stream and is poised to surpass $30 billion in sales by 2026, despite impending patent expiration toward the end of the decade.

Similarly, Gardasil, Merck’s HPV vaccine, reported robust first-quarter sales of $2.25 billion, marking a 14% increase in line with analysts’ expectations. The vaccine’s growth trajectory is fueled by strong demand in key markets such as China, where Merck is actively pursuing approval for its use in men.

Merck’s diversified product portfolio is further evidenced by the stellar performance of Vaxneuvance, a vaccine designed to protect against pneumococcus bacterial infection. Sales of Vaxneuvance surged by an impressive 106% to reach $219 million in the first quarter, underscoring the company’s commitment to addressing critical public health needs.

In addition to its strong product performance, Merck recently received approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for its potential blockbuster treatment, Winrevair. The drug, indicated for adults with pulmonary arterial hypertension, is slated for launch by the end of the month, offering hope to an estimated 40,000 individuals in the United States affected by this condition.

Looking ahead, Merck is poised for substantial growth in its oncology segment, with expectations of generating $20 billion from new oncology products in development by the mid-2030s. This ambitious target represents a significant uptick from its previous forecast and underscores Merck’s commitment to innovation and addressing unmet medical needs in the field of oncology.

Furthermore, Merck has embarked on a strategic restructuring program aimed at optimizing its manufacturing operations in both human and animal health sectors. The program, slated for completion by the end of 2031, reflects Merck’s proactive approach to enhancing operational efficiency and driving long-term value for its stakeholders.

In conclusion, Merck’s upward revision of its 2024 profit forecast underscores the company’s continued success and leadership in the pharmaceutical industry. With a portfolio of innovative products, strategic acquisitions, and operational optimization initiatives, Merck is well-positioned for sustained growth and remains a key player in advancing healthcare worldwide.


Joan David-Leonhard

Joan David Leonhard is a recent Pharm.D graduate with a strong passion for the pharmaceutical industry and a particular interest in pharmaceutical media and communication. Her brief internship experience includes roles in pharmacy where she built strong patient-pharmacist relationships and a pharmaceutical media internship where she actively contributed to drug information articles, blog posts, social media engagement, and various media projects.
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