This won't be much of an end-of-summer holiday weekend for the folks at Merck (NYSE:MRK) and Schering-Plough (SGP). That's because early Tuesday morning (5am ET) the detailed results of the so-called SEAS study will be presented at a scientific conference in Germany.
This is the test of MRK and SGP's cholesterol drug Vytorin, which showed a higher incidence of cancer among the patients taking the pill. Some experts say the numbers are due to chance or a fluke, but investors aren't so sure. The shares fell again recently, when what's called the topline results of the SEAS study came out.
And at least one analyst Friday is telling clients to batten down the hatches. Tim Anderson at Sanford C. Bernstein put out a note entitled with the loaded question, "Should there be a moratorium on the use of cholesterol-lowering drugs?"
His answer seems to be no. Nonetheless, Anderson is cautioning investors that the "data release could once again culminate in lots of nasty headlines...."
In the end Anderson believes the data will show that "there is not a real link between Vytorin usage and cancer." But in the meantime, he writes, "Investors should expect the unexpected."
As a result, he thinks the stocks could be volatile.
Bracing for stormy SEAS this weekend and not just in the Gulf of Mexico.
A part of Bernstein owns at least one percent of MRK and SGP shares.