Merck revenue beats estimates on Keytruda demand

(Reuters) – Merck & Co Inc reported quarterly revenue on Thursday ahead of analysts’ estimates, as a recovery in demand for its cancer drug Keytruda helped offset a hit to sales of some of the company’s vaccines due to rising COVID-19 cases.

FILE PHOTO: The Merck logo is seen at a gate to the Merck & Co campus in Rahway, New Jersey, U.S., July 12, 2018. REUTERS/Brendan McDermid//File Photo

Vaccine demand has taken a hit due to people missing routine inoculations during the pandemic, and government guidelines to avoid other shots in close proximity to getting COVID-19 vaccines.

Sales of Merck’s measles and mumps vaccines ProqQuad was $516 million in the reported quarter, missing estimates of $541 million, according to Refinitiv IBES data. Sales of Pneumovax to prevent pneumococcal pneumonia and other infections caused by similar bacteria was $152 million, compared with estimates of $193.67 million.

The company said in April it was starting to see a recovery in sales of some products, albeit slower than previously expected due to a resurgence of COVID-19 cases.

Sales of Keytruda, the company’s blockbuster cancer therapy, rose 23% to $4.2 billion in the reported quarter, in line with estimates of $4.21 billion, according to nine analysts polled by Refinitiv.

The company has said delayed cancer diagnoses during the pandemic contributed to less patients starting treatment with the therapy.

Merck, however, has continued to gain expanded approvals for Keytruda’s use, putting it on track to become the world’s best selling drug by 2023, according to research firm GlobalData.

The company’s second-quarter sales rose 22% to $11.40 billion, beating estimates of $11.10 billion.

Quarterly profit nearly halved as Merck took a $1.7 billion charge due to its acquisition of Pandion and expenses related to drug development.

On an adjusted basis, the company earned $1.31 per share, in line with analysts’ estimates.

Merck’s shares fell 2% to $76.76 in premarket trading.

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