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Merck & Co Raises 2022 Forecast as COVID-19 Pill, Cancer Drug Fuels Profit Beat

The company also revealed that its Gardasil brought in $1.46 billion in the quarter, around $200 million more than Wall Street estimates, thanks to strong demand, especially from China. Gardasil is a vaccine that prevents cancers linked to human papillomavirus.

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The sales of Merck's cancer immunotherapy Keytruda rose 23 percent to $4.8 billion, about $300 million more than analysts had forecast. (File)

Merck & Co on Thursday announced their quarterly profit and sales that beat estimates and raised its full-year forecasts on strong demand for top-selling cancer drug Keytruda, Gardasil vaccine, and COVID-19 antiviral pill molnupiravir.

According to a report by news agency Reuters, the shares of Merck & Co rose 1.8 percent to $85.90 before the opening bell as revenue rose 50 percent to $15.9 billion. According to the company, the sales of molnupiravir have contributed the most. The antiviral pill was approved in November last year.

Meanwhile, Refinitiv data has revealed that the Analysts had expected sales of $14.7 billion. Moreover, the revenue grew 19 percent in the first quarter, excluding the sales of molnupiravir. Now the company is expecting molnupiravir sales between $5 billion to $5.5 billion which is a cut to the upper end of its previous range of $5 billion to $6 billion.

“We have the capacity to supply more to the market and it really depends on what happens with the pandemic. It depends on whether we do see more outbreaks, new variants,” Chief Financial Officer Caroline Litchfield said as quoted by Reuters.

Additionally, Merck has shipped 6.4 million courses of the drug and it has been used by roughly 500,000 patients globally so far, executives said on a post-earnings conference call according to Reuters. Meanwhile, the sales of Merck’s cancer immunotherapy Keytruda rose 23 percent to $4.8 billion, about $300 million more than analysts had forecast.

The company also revealed that its Gardasil brought in $1.46 billion in the quarter, around $200 million more than Wall Street estimates, thanks to strong demand, especially from China. Gardasil is a vaccine that prevents cancers linked to human papillomavirus.

The drugmaker announced that the sales of Molnupiravir stood at $3.2 billion, topping analyst estimates by around $100 million. However, it showed only 30 percent effectiveness in reducing hospitalisations which is far lower than the rival antiviral therapy from Pfizer Inc, the enthusiasm over the Ridgeback Biotherapeutics manufactured drug has waned.

According to a Reuters report, the drugmaker raised its forecast for annual profit to $7.24 to $7.36 per share and sales to $56.9 billion to $58.1 billion.

(With inputs from Reuters)

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