Merck & Co., Inc. (MRK)’s Crash of a Titan

Merck’s pipeline has proved inconsistent as drugs continue to fall out of contention. The latest falter came late last year, when Merck said it wouldn’t seek U.S. approval for promising cholesterol candidate Tredaptive. The drug had proved ineffective and possibly harmful in a late-stage study.

But there are bright spots. My personal pick remains suvorexant for insomnia. Suvorexant offers a better safety profile than previous medications such as Sanofi SA (ADR) (NYSE:SNY)‘s Ambien, which has potentially dangerous side effects such as sleepwalking or even driving in one’s sleep. The side effects prompted the FDA last month to recommend lower doses of any drug containing Ambien’s active ingredient. If patients find Merck’s drug to be effective and safer, suvorexant could slingshot to the front of the market.

Foolish final thoughts
Everyone knew the Singulair patent expiration was coming, but the sales did drop off a bit faster than expected. Merck has several other strong drugs in the product portfolio, and I’ll dive deeper into each candidate later this week. But concerned investors should also watch the pipeline for better signs of life.

The article Merck’s Crash of a Titan originally appeared on Fool.com and is written by Brandy Betz.

Brandy Betz and The Motley Fool have no position in any of the stocks mentioned.

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