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Merck & Co Inc. (MRK)

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  • Fri, May 22, 8:57 AM
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  • Thu, May 21, 9:30 AM
    • Alongside Goldman's list of 50 stocks appearing most as top holdings at hedge funds is its list of the 50 top shorts.
    • New additions this quarter: Baxter Intl (NYSE:BAX), UPS, Marriott (NASDAQ:MAR), NextEra (NYSE:NEE), Ford (NYSE:F), National Oilwell Varco (NYSE:NOV), McDonald's (NYSE:MCD), M&T Bank (NYSE:MTB), CenturyLink (NYSE:CTL), Amgen (NASDAQ:AMGN), Pioneer Natural (NYSE:PXD), Duke Energy (NYSE:DUK), Seagate (NASDAQ:STX), AbbVie (NYSE:ABBV), Cisco (NASDAQ:CSCO).
    • The full list (in order of $ value of short interest): AT&T (NYSE:T), Disney (NYSE:DIS), IBM, Verizon (NYSE:VZ), Intel (NASDAQ:INTC), Kinder Morgan (NYSE:KMI), Exxon (NYSE:XOM), Pfizer (NYSE:PFE), J&J (NYSE:JNJ), Deere (NYSE:DE), Caterpillar (NYSE:CAT), Exelon (NYSE:EXC), GE, Boeing (NYSE:BA), Halliburton (NYSE:HAL), Fox (NASDAQ:FOXA), Comcast (NASDAQ:CMCSA), UTX, Regeneron (NASDAQ:REGN), Merck (NYSE:MRK), salesforce.com (NYSE:CRM), AbbVie (ABBV), Conoco (NYSE:COP), Wal-Mart (NYSE:WMT), Eli Lilly (NYSE:LLY), Celgene (NASDAQ:CELG), Schlumberger (NYSE:SLB), AutoZone (NYSE:AZO), Wells Fargo (NYSE:WFC), Emerson (NYSE:EMR), McDonald's (MCD), Reynolds (NYSE:RAI), Target (NYSE:TGT), Accenture (NYSE:ACN), Coca-Cola (NYSE:KO).
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  • Fri, May 15, 7:16 AM
    • India's Supreme Court blocks Mumbai-based Glenmark Pharmaceuticals Ltd. from selling generic versions of Merck's (NYSE:MRK) diabetes drugs Januvia and Janumet, although Glenmark will be able to sell its existing inventory.
    • Merck sued Glenmark in 2013 for infringing on a patent covering sitagliptin, the active ingredient in its two drugs.
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  • Tue, May 12, 10:14 AM
    • One consequence of the wind down of the Ebola outbreak in West Africa is that there is little chance that the vaccine trials going on there will show efficacy, according to the World Health Organization. Since the number of cases has dropped substantially, Liberia was declared Ebola-free on Saturday, Guinea reported seven cases last week while Sierra Leone reported only two, there may not be enough data to prove that people are actually protected.
    • The FDA's Materials, Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee is meeting today to discuss alternative approval paths for Ebola vaccines, considering situations like West Africa. One option for approval is the "animal rule" which grants licensure based on the results from animal studies that show the vaccine is reasonably likely to produce clinical benefit in humans.
    • Previously: Ad Comm approaches for alternative development and licensure paths for Ebola vaccine candidates (May 8)
    • Related tickers: (MRK -1.2%)(JNJ -0.5%)(GSK -1.2%)(NLNK -22.2%)(EBS -2.8%)
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  • Fri, May 8, 11:33 AM
    • The FDA's Materials, Vaccines and Related Biological Products Advisory Committee meets Tuesday, May 12 to discuss the benefits and risks of various development and approval paths for Ebola vaccines.
    • The committee will discuss three: 1) traditional approval based on clinical endpoint efficacy data, 2) accelerated approval and 3) approval under the "animal rule."
    • Traditional approval is unlikely to be recommended due to the inability and unethical aspect of comparing the vaccine candidates to placebo and the difficulty of recruiting a sufficient number of subjects due to the significant decline in Ebola infection rates.
    • Under accelerated approval, a surrogate endpoint that is reasonably likely to predict clinical benefit (e.g., immune response) may serve as the basis for licensure. In this scenario, post-approval studies would be required to verify and describe the vaccine's clinical benefit.
    • The "animal rule" may apply if traditional studies are unfeasible or unethical and accelerated approval cannot be used. In this scenario, approval would based on the results from animal studies that show the vaccine is reasonably likely to produce clinical benefit in humans, provided that safety in humans has been established. Post-approval studies would be required here as well.
    • Briefing information 
    • Related tickers: (MRK +1.5%)(JNJ +1.8%)(GSK +3.2%)(NLNK +3.1%)(EBS -1.6%)
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  • Thu, May 7, 11:13 AM
    • Spurred by the progress of a bill moving through Congress that will speed new drugs to market for conditions lacking cures, called The 21st Century Cures Act, the FDA has scheduled a public meeting this summer to address concerns by the drugs industry that regulatory restrictions on what they can say about the off-label use of their products violates their First Amendment right to free speech. Language in the bill is ratcheting up the pressure on the agency to relax its guidelines.
    • Drug makers were emboldened on its prospects of changing the rules after an appeals court overturned the conviction of a pharmaceutical sales representative in 2012 who was convicted of promoting off-label uses of the narcolepsy drug Xyrem. The court ruling was based on First Amendment protection for truthful and non-misleading off-label speech.
    • The American Medical Association supports the need for physicians to have access to accurate and unbiased information about off-label uses of drugs since it already accounts for as much as 20% of prescribing, with higher levels in oncology and pediatric rare diseases.
    • Giving drug firms more leeway in this arena has its detractors, however. Rita Redberg, M.D., Professor of Medicine at the UC-San Francisco says, "At my own medical center we have banned pharmaceutical reps from coming because we don't think they are a good source of information. You don't ask the barber if you need a haircut."
    • Pharma companies have a dubious history of breaking the rules governing off-label promotion. Over the past 10 years, 17 firms have paid more than $16B in settlements related to inappropriate off-label selling.
    • Further complicating matters is the fact that up to 75% of published pre-clinical trial results cannot be reproduced in later studies.
    • ETFs: IBB, BIB, IRY, BIS, IXJ, DRGS
    • Related tickers: (MRK +0.4%)(LLY -0.1%)(PFE +0.3%)(BMY +0.7%)(GSK -4.1%)(OTCQX:RHHBY -1.1%)(SNY -0.6%)(OTCPK:BAYRY -0.5%)(NVS +0.1%)(AZN -0.3%)(JNJ +0.2%)(ABT -0.1%)(ABBV +0.1%)
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  • Wed, Apr. 29, 10:39 AM
    • Phase 3 trials assessing Merck's (MRK +0.2%) combination antibiotic Zerbaxa (ceftolozane/tazobactam) for the treatment of complicated urinary tract infections (cUTI) and complicated intra-abdominal infections (cIAI) demonstrated effectiveness.
    • In a 1,083-subject study in cUTI, patients were randomized to receive either intravenous (IV) Zerbaxa or high-dose IV levofloxacin for seven days. The study met its primary endpoint of statistical non-inferiority (no worse than) to levofloxacin.
    • In a 993-subject study in cIAI, patients were randomized to receive either IV Zerbaxa plus metronidazole or IV meropenem for four to ten days. Treatment with Zerbaxa + metronidazole was shown to be effective but it is unclear whether the trial met its primary endpoint of statistical non-inferiority as measured by the clinical cure rate 24 - 32 days after the initiation of therapy.
    • The FDA cleared Zerbaxa, developed by Cubist Pharmaceuticals, in December for the treatment of cUTI and cIAI infections. Merck acquired Cubist the same month. The marketing application in Europe is currently under review with a decision by the European Commission expected in H2.
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  • Tue, Apr. 28, 12:53 PM
    • In this morning's earnings call, Merck (MRK +5.2%) reported that the FDA has again declined to approve Bridion (sugammadex) as a reversal agent for muscle relaxants used in surgery, citing the need to see more data on potential allergic reactions to the product. The decision was no surprise. The company expected to receive a Complete Response Letter (CRL), its second regarding sugammadex, by April 22. It originally submitted the New Drug Application (NDA) in 2008.
    • The product is sold in over 60 countries so the risk of allergic reactions appears to be manageable.
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  • Tue, Apr. 28, 9:12 AM
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  • Tue, Apr. 28, 7:52 AM
    • Merck (NYSE:MRK) Q1 results ($M): Total Revenues: 9,425 (-8.2%); Pharmaceutical: 8.266 (-2.2%); Animal Health: 829 (+2.0%); Consumer Care: 2 (-99.6%); Other: 328 (-27.8%); Net Income: 953 (-44.9%); GAAP EPS: 0.33 (-42.1%).
    • Key Product Sales: Januvia/Janumet: 1,393 (+4.4%); Zetia/Vytorin: 887 (-8.7%); Remicade: 501 (-17.1%); Isentress: 385 (-1.3%); Gardasil: 359 (-6.3%); Nasomex: 289 (-7.4%); Proquad, MMRII & Varivax: 348 (+24.3%); Singulair: 245 (-9.6%).
    • 2015 Guidance: Revenues: $38.3B - 39.8B (unch); GAAP EPS: $1.58 - 1.85 from $1.62 - 1.91; Non-GAAP EPS: $3.35 - 3.48 from $3.32 - 3.47.
    • Shares are up 5% premarket on light volume.
    | 1 Comment
  • Tue, Apr. 28, 7:02 AM
    • Merck (NYSE:MRK): Q1 EPS of $0.85 beats by $0.11.
    • Revenue of $9.42B (-8.2% Y/Y) beats by $430M.
    • Press Release
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  • Mon, Apr. 27, 7:35 PM
    • Results from a 14,724-patient CV risk study, TECOS (Trial Evaluating Cardiovascular Outcomes with Sitagliptin), showed Merck's (NYSE:MRK) Januvia (sitagliptin) was no worse than (non-inferior) placebo in cardiovascular (CV) risk as measured by the composite CV endpoint. The composite CV endpoint was defined as the composite of time to the first of any of the following confirmed events: CV-related death, nonfatal myocardial infarction, nonfatal stroke or unstable angina requiring hospitalization. The mean followup period was ~three years.
    • Also, there was no increase in hospitalization for heart failure in the sitagliptin cohort versus placebo.
    • The complete results will be presented on June 8 at the 75th Scientific Sessions of the American Diabetes Association.
    • Januvia is indicated as an adjunct to diet and exercise to improve glycemic control in patients with type 2 diabetes mellitus.
    | 1 Comment
  • Mon, Apr. 27, 5:40 PM
    • Top gainers, as of 5:15 p.m.: FOLD +8.6%. RTEC +7.9%. RCII +7.5%. MRK +4.1%. WNC +4.1%.
    • Top losers, as of 5:15 p.m.: TCS -23.0%. AMKR -8.1%. ALSN -5.3%. OSTK -4.2%. EJ -3.6%.
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  • Mon, Apr. 27, 5:30 PM
  • Mon, Apr. 27, 4:34 PM
    • Merck (NYSE:MRK) will report Q1 results tomorrow before the open. Consensus view is EPS of $0.74 on revenues of $9B.
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  • Mon, Apr. 27, 3:30 PM
    • Two Phase 3 clinical trials evaluating Tetraphase Pharmaceuticals' (TTPH -5.1%) lead product candidate, eravacycline, show positive results for the treatment of complicated intra-abdominal infections (cIAI) and complicated urinary tract infections (cUTI).
    • The first study, IGNITE-1, compared eravacycline to Merck's (MRK -1.1%) Invanz (ertapenem) for the treatment of cIAI. It achieved the primary endpoint of statistical non-inferiority (no worse than) of clinical response at the test-of-cure (TOC) visit. In the microbiological intent-to-treat (micro-ITT) population (n=446) 86.8% of patients receiving eravacycline achieved a clinical cure compared to 87.6% of patients receiving ertapenem (FDA criteria). In the clinically evaluable population (n=477) 92.9% of patients receiving eravacycline achieved a clinical cure versus 94.5% of patients receiving ertapenem (EMA criteria). These results were first reported in December.
    • In the lead-in portion of the second study, IGNITE-2, both IV-to-oral dosing regimens of eravacycline (1.5 mg/kg followed by 200 mg or 250 mg) compared favorably with levofloxacin, a broad spectrum antibiotic, for the treatment of cUTI. The primary endpoint, per the FDA's criteria, was the responder rate (defined as both clinical cure and successful microbiological outcome) in the micro-ITT population. The responder rates for 200 mg (n=24), 250 mg (n=28) and levofloxacin (n=23) were 75.0%, 64.3% and 56.4%, respectively. In the microbiologically evaluable population, the primary endpoint was the microbiological response per the EMA's criteria. The respective responses for levofloxacin isolates (n=24) were: 83.3%, 72.7% and 42.9%. Based on these data, the 200 mg dose will be used for the pivotal portion of the Phase 3 that is currently underway.
    • The company expects to submit its regulatory applications by the end of the year.
    • The data were presented at this week's 25th European Congress of Clinical Microbiology and Infectious Diseases in Copenhagen, Denmark.
    • Previously: Tetraphase antibiotic non-inferior to ertapenem in Phase 3 study (Dec. 17, 2014)
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Company Description
Merck & Co Inc is a health care company that delivers health solutions through its prescription medicines, vaccines, biologic therapies, animal health, and consumer care products.