Merck & Schering-Plough Face Cholesterol Firing Squad (MRK, SGP)

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Usually drug companies look forward to presenting data on their drugs and medical treatments.  The the American College of Cardiology meeting was this weekend, and the findings and recommendations are worse than bad. 

Shares of Schering-Plough Corp (NYSE: SGP) and Merck & Co (NYSE: MRK) are being hit sharply this morning.  Doctors at this prominent medical meeting recommended that patients try older cholesterol drugs before trying these companies’ newer medicines.

Vytorin and Zetia generate roughly $5 Billion in annual sales and many have questioned the overall results of these for several months.  Doctors are now recommending older statins in high doses, followed by other treatments before putting clients on these drugs.  So these will be garnered to a last line of defense drug group, which will effectively kill the sales if doctors on the local level follow this recommendation.

So far, we have seen Schering-Plough downgraded at both Lehman Brothers and at Goldman Sachs.  Lowering cholesterol doesn’t seem to matter if the arterial plaque still builds up.

Schering-Plough shares had been hit by almost 30% since the questions had started coming out about the efficacy of the drugs.  That was before the drop today.  Shares of Schering-Plough Corp (NYSE: SGP) are down 22% pre-market at $15.08 and shares of Merck & Co (NYSE: MRK) are down 10% at $39.70 in pre-market trading this Monday. 

Jon C. Ogg
March 31, 2008