Merck & Co forecast profit decline for 2013

Merck & Co has forecast a profit decline this year with generic competition to its top-selling drug Singulair set to rise, and an inability to introduce new drugs due to research setbacks.

The second-largest US drugmaker, added today that it would delay seeking US approval for experimental osteoporosis medicine odanacatib until 2014, a year later than planned until the results of a second large study which is ongoing could be presented to regulators.

Merck has been axing thousands of jobs even as it looks to boost demand for existing products to overcome the loss of revenue from Singulair, which began facing competition from cheaper copies last year.

The postponement increased investor concerns about the drugmaker's inability to launch new products in the market and pushed its shares down the most since August 2011.

According to Merck, it would not seek US approval for a cholesterol medicine. Earlier, in June it failed to win clearance for a therapy aimed at slowing the growth of sarcoma. The lack of new drugs added to the company's woes with a 2-per cent revenue drop last year after Merck's asthma treatment Singulair began facing generic competition.

According to analysts, investors were also looking for Merck to restructure and perhaps sell off non-pharmaceutical units, like other drugmakers.