Thinking Citizen Blog — Big Pharma V: Merck — From Morphine to Streptomycin to Vaccines to Vioxx and Statins
Thinking Citizen Blog — Tuesday is Economics, Finance, and Business Day
Today’s Topic: Big Pharma V: Merck — From Morphine to Streptomycin to Vaccines to Vioxx and Statins
This is the fifth in a series that began on 11/30 with a note on Vertex, followed by Pfizer (12/7). Johnson and Johnson (12/14), and Roche (12/21). But in a sense it is also a follow-up on last week’s Health Care Day post on Maurice Hilleman (1/6), the man who may have saved more lives than any other scientist in history. For 45 years, Merck provided the environment that allowed Hilleman’s genius to thrive. Today, a few notes on this remarkable company. Experts — please chime in. Correct, elaborate, elucidate.
THE FOUNDING, MORPHINE, COCAINE, WORLD WAR I
1. Merck was founded in Germany by the son of an innkeeper who went into the pharmacy business, acquiring his second pharmacy in 1668. Merck is the oldest drug company in the world. (Photo above is of the pharmacy in Darmstadt.)
2. “In 1827, Merck Group evolved from a pharmacy to a drug manufacturer company with the commercial manufacture of morphine. Merck perfected the chemical process of deriving morphine from opium and later introduced cocaine, used to treat sinus problems and to add to beverages to boost energy levels.”
3. The American company operated as a subsidiary of the German parent company until World War I.
STREPTOMYCIN FOR TB, DIURETICS FOR HYPERTENSIVES, MMR VACCINE
1. “In 1943, Streptomycin (above) was discovered during a Merck-funded research program in Selman Waksman’s laboratory at Rutgers University, it became the first effective treatment for tuberculosis. At the time of its discovery, sanitoriums for the isolation of tuberculosis-infected people were a ubiquitous feature of cities in developed countries, with 50% dying within 5 years of admission.”
2. “In the 1950s, thiazide diuretics were developed by Merck scientists Karl H. Beyer, James M. Sprague, John E. Baer, and Frederick C. Novello and led to the marketing of the first drug of this class, chlorothiazide, under the trade name Duiril in 1958. The research leading to the discovery of chlorothiazide, leading to “the saving of untold thousands of lives and the alleviation of the suffering of millions of victims of hypertension” was recognized by a special Public Health Award from the Lasker Foundation in 1975.”
3. Maurice Hilleman, a scientist at Merck, developed the first mumps vaccin in 1967, the first rubella vaccine in 1969, and the first trivalent measles, mumps, rubella (MMR Vaccin) in 1971. The incidence of rubella-associated birth defects fell from up to 10,000 per year in the U.S. to zero in the aftermath of the rubella vaccine’s development.Hilleman also developed the first Hepatitis B vaccine, and the first varicella vaccine for chickenpox.”
THE FIRST STATIN, VIOXX, SOME STOCK STATISTICS, BIGGEST CURRENT PRODUCTS
1. “In 1979, Merck scientists developed lovastatin (Mevacor), the first drug of the statin class.” Statins are used to lower cholesterol, reducing the risk of heart disease.
2. In 2004, Merck settled a tort suit for $4.9 billion related to its anti-arthritis drug Vioxx.
3. Merck stock has a market capitalization of roughly $200 bn. Its trailing price to earnings ratio is 22, its forward price to earning ratio is 10X. Its trailing annual dividend yield is
3.1%. Its forward dividend yield is 3.44%.
NB: Merck’s current three biggest products are Keytruda (oncology), Gardasil (vaccines), and Januvia (diabetes). See last three links below for details.
A LINK TO THE LAST THREE YEARS OF POSTS ORGANIZED BY THEME:
YOUR TURN — Please share:
a.) the coolest thing you learned this week related to business, economics, finance.
b.) the coolest thing you learned in your life related to business, economics, finance.
c.) anything at all related to business, economics, finance.
d.) anything at all