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Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Merck’s Next Horse Pill (MRK)(WMT)

Like most of the Big Pharma companies, Merck needs a winner. Wall St. is scared witless that generic drug firms like Teva will scoop up all of the customers as drugs come off patent.

With Wal-Mart and every corner store offering $4 prescriptions for generic drugs, the sun may be setting on operations like Merck.

Merck is trying to get its new painkiller, Arcoxia, out the door without physicians thinking it has health risks like the company heart-unhealthy drug Vioxx.

Arcoxia is already controversial and it is not even for sale in the US. Some doctors think the drug could be as dangerous as Vioxx. But, a study presented at the recent American Heart Association conference indicated that the drug was fairly safe. Only 1% of the people on the drug suffered a heart attack, stroke, or death within the first year.

Great odds if you are not the patient who died.

Douglas A. McIntyre can be reached at He does not own securities in companies that he writes about.

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