Cost-cutting helps Merck raise profits 2 percent

Drugmaker Merck said its third-quarter profits rose 2 percent in part because it was able to control costs in the face of generic competition.

Merck is based in Whitehouse Station, N.J., and has several other facilities in the Philadelphia region, including a plant in West Point, Montgomery County.

Merck reported a profit of $1.73 billion for the quarter versus $1.69 billion for the same period in 2011.

Sales revenue fell from $12.022 billion to $11,488 billion for the third quarter of 2012.

Revenue from Merck's top-selling drug, the diabetes medication Januvia, grew 15 percent from $846 million to $975 million in the same period of 2011.

The asthma drug Singulair was Merck's top selling drug in the third quarter of 2011. But it faced generic competition in August of 2012 and sales dropped 55 percent in the quarter, from $1.336 billion in 2011 to $602 million in 2012.

"Our strong global sales this quarter offset the impact of the Singulair patent expiry in the U.S.," Merck chairman, chief executive officer and Philadelphia native Kenneth C. Frazier said in a statement. "We will

continue to drive value for our customers and shareholders through Merck’s four-part strategy of executing on our core business, expanding geographically in high-growth markets, extending our complementary businesses and excelling at managing our costs while investing for growth. With our robust pipeline, we remain on target to submit multiple new products for marketing approval between now and the end of 2013, including suvorexant for insomnia, odanacatib for osteoporosis and Tredaptive for multiple lipid parameters."

Frazier was among more than 80 CEO's who signed a statement released Thursday pressing Congress to reduce the federal deficit by raising taxes and cutting spending, the Associated Press reported.

The CEOs said the solution requires a combination of higher taxes and reduced government spending including on entitlement programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. They also seek federal investment in infrastructure and math and science education.

“What it really comes down to is if we still have the political will to be a great country,” Dave Cote, chairman and CEO of Honeywell International Inc., said in a statement, according to the AP.

Other companies, whose leaders joined the effort included, Aetna Inc., Microsoft Corp., JPMorgan Chase & Co., Time Warner Cable Inc., General Electric Co., Dow Chemical Co., Verizon Communications Inc., Bank of America Corp., AT&T Inc. and Allstate Corp.