UPDATED: On the earnings call, Adam Schecter just said (@ 8:24 am EDT), that Merck is seeing a slowing in new patient starts, on Victrelis®, and the summer months are usually slow for Hep C therapy. He said that Merck still expects there are appropriate unreached patients for Victrelis, but that is pretty close to an admission that Vertex will always hold the clear market lead here.
And, as I at least expected, the strong US Dollar has cut worldwide sales growth by 4 full percent. If perfectly hedged, Merck’s sales revenue would have increased 5 percent in the quarter, but due to currencies, Merck reported only a 1 percent increase in global sales revenue. UPDATE: CFO Kellogg just said that Merck expects currencies “headwind” to decrease FULL-YEAR sales by more than 3 percent. He sees continuing erosion of the euro. On $12.3 billion in quarterly sales, that is a very significant number. Even so, Animal Health showed very strong growth (before currencies) in the quarter.
There was though — as to IMPROVE-IT, some more “dribbling-out” of the at this point long-delayed news (it is now about three years beyond the originally-expected end date, after being redesigned to vastly increase study size) — another three month delay on data analysis, bumped back from December 31, 2012, to March 31, 2013:
. . . .Merck previously announced in late March 2012 that the independent Data Safety Monitoring Board of the IMPROVE-IT study planned to review data from the study again in approximately nine months. That review has been scheduled for March 2013, at which point nine months of additional data will have been adjudicated. . . .
However, I think most people think a negative or ambiguous outcome in IMPROVE-IT is probably already priced in.
Now we wait for Vertex — on Monday, to see how Incivek® did in Q2 2012. I expect the 80-20 split in Vertex’s favor will continue to hold, or around $470 million for Vertex.