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Schering-Plough profit doubles on statin drug performance and costs savings

Schering-Plough sees Q2 FY07 profit increase through cost savings and improved performance of its statin franchise

US-headquartered Schering-Plough (S-P) saw its Q2 FY07 profit increase to USD 517m (USD 0.34 per share), compared with USD 237m (USD 0.16 cents per share) in Q2 FY06.

The rises were attributed to increased sales of arthritis treatment Remicade (infliximab), which is sold only outside the US, up 28 per cent to reach USD 394m, while allergy drug Nasonex (mometasone) rose 22 per cent to rest at USD 295m, helped by an increased marketing push. JP Morgan analysts have said that cost controls at S-P were also a major factor in the firm's augmented performance.

Peg-Intron treatment for hepatitis C rose three per cent to USD 234m. The small rise was due to lower US sales over competition from Roche's treatment Pegasys (peginterferon alfa-2a).

According to Reuters Estimates S-P earned USD 0.41 cents per share, while analysts had expected only USD 0.35 cents a share.

Shares in S-P rose to USD 32.61 in pre-market trading from a closing price of USD 31.49 on 20 July. S-P does not include in its results the 50 per cent share in proceeds from its cholesterol tie-up with Merck & Co. The figure for this was USD 3.2bn, or a rise of 13 per cent. Sales in the partnership would have only risen 10 per cent if it had not been favoured by positive foreign exchange factors.

Including revenue from its Merck joint venture, sales rose 15 per cent to reach USD 3.8bn. Ethicals racked up USD 1.2bn of global revenue in Q2 FY07, or a rise of 30 per cent.

According to S-P, the only cholesterol drugs to have increased their 2007 US market share are Vytorin (ezetimibe/ simvastatin) and Zetia (ezetimibe). Pfizer's Lipitor (atorvastatin), which recently lost its patent, has continued to see falling sales over erosion from Merck's generic Zocor.

S-P's proposed USD 14.7bn purchase of Organon, which was announced back in March 2007, should augment the firm's pipeline with a number of treatments the firm says should reduce its reliance on its statin franchise.

The acquisition would also bring with it a women's health business and an experimental treatment for schizophrenia, as well as a treatment to reverse the effects of anaesthesia. In addition, the deal would add an animal health business.

23rd July 2007

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