Vaccine and cancer drug sales give pharma firm Merck a boost

Billy Bambrough
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Research and development costs have been rising at Merck
Research and development costs have been rising at Merck (Source: Getty)

The second-largest US drug producer has posted better-than-expected quarterly revenue, boosted by sales of its vaccines and cancer drugs.

Higher sales of Merck’s vaccines and key cancer drug Keytruda sent its revenue for the third quarter up by five per cent on the same period last year, to $10.54bn (£8.7bn).

The company reported a profit of $2.2bn, or 78 cents per share, up from $1.8bn, or 64 cents per share in the year-earlier period.

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Analysts polled by Thomson Reuters had forecast per-share earnings of 99 cents a share on revenue of $10.18bn.

Research and development costs increased 11 per cent to $1.7bn on higher clinical development spending.

Earlier in the week Merck picked up approval from the US Food and Drug Administration for Keytruda to be used as a first-line treatment for certain lung cancer patients. It had previously been reserved as a secondary-treatment.

Merck is betting heavily on the drug, with development programmes coving over 30 tumour types and 360 clinical trials.

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