Merck reports lower revenue and net income in first quarter

Drugmaker Merck & Co., reported Wednesday morning that first-quarter sales revenue was 9 percent lower than in the first quarter of 2012 and that net income fell from $1.738 billion to $1.593 billion.

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

Merck sold $11.731 billion worth of medicine in the first quarter of 2012. But generic competition and currency exchange rates, according to the company, were the main factors in the 2013 revenue coming in at $10.671 billion.

Merck lowered its earnings and profit estimates for the rest of 2013. In trying to lessen the sting for shareholders, Merck said it would begin a new, $15 billion share buyback plan, with $7.5 billion coming in the next year.

“Our first quarter performance reflects the challenges of major patent expiries coupled with the impact of currency and other headwinds,” Merck chief executive officer and Philadelphia native Kenneth C. Frazier said in a statement. “During the quarter, we took focused actions to reach our EPS target while at the same time advancing Merck’s pipeline in our laboratories and through strategic deals and partnerships. I remain confident in the future opportunities for our strong and diverse business and committed to delivering long-term value to our shareholders.”