FAIRLESS HILLS, PA (AP) — Surging sales of cancer medicines and reduced spending across the board helped Merck overcome a big hit from the Coronavirus pandemic and pushed second quarter profits up by 12%.
The drugmaker blew past Wall Street projections and boosted its financial forecast for the year Friday even as it spends heavily on the development of two experimental vaccines and a possible treatment for COVID-19.
“Customer access to care is improving,” said CEO Kenneth Frazier, adding that he is optimistic about vaccines and a treatment for COVID-19.
Unlike many rivals developing vaccines that will require two doses, Merck is aiming for one-dose vaccines.
The company bought Austrian vaccine maker Themis Biosciences this year to gain rights to its experimental COVID-19 vaccine. Human tests should begin this quarter. Human testing on a second type of vaccine, being developed with an international nonprofit vaccine consortium, is expected to begin this year. The latter uses the technology that’s the basis for Merck’s approved vaccine against the Ebola virus, which could improve chances for success against COVID-19.
Merck intends to try to get both approved, rather than picking the best one, because it expects multiple vaccines will be needed to protect different patient groups, research head Roger Perlmutter said Friday.