Merck to Spin off Divisions

U.S. drugmaker Merck (NYSE:MRK) said on Wednesday it was planning to spin off its women’s health, biosimilar drugs and legacy products into a new publicly traded company.

Merck also said it will retain its cancer drugs, including blockbuster cancer therapy Keytruda, vaccines, hospital and animal health businesses.

Merck also announced fourth-quarter financial figures, which boasted fourth-quarter 2019 worldwide sales were $11.9 Billion, an Increase of 8%; Excluding the Impact from Foreign Exchange, sales grew 9%

Fourth-quarter 2019 GAAP EPS Was $0.92; Fourth-quarter Non-GAAP EPS was $1.16.

CEO Kenneth Frazier said, "As evidenced by our results and our 2020 guidance, Merck had an extraordinary year and is in a position of operational and financial strength.

"It is this position of strength, born of our focused execution, that gives us the confidence to spin off our Women’s Health, trusted Legacy Brands and Biosimilar products into a new company, which will position us to deliver even greater value to patients and shareholders."

Merck continued to advance the development programs for KEYTRUDA (pembrolizumab), the company’s anti-PD-1 therapy; Lynparza (olaparib), a PARP inhibitor being co-developed and co-commercialized with AstraZeneca; and Lenvima (lenvatinib mesylate), an orally available tyrosine kinase inhibitor being co-developed and co-commercialized with Eisai Co., Ltd.

What’s more, KEYTRUDA won approvals in Japan, China, Europe and by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration.

Merck acquired ArQule, Inc., diversifying its oncology portfolio with the expansion into targeted therapies that treat hematological malignancies with the addition of ARQ 531, a novel, oral Bruton’s tyrosine kinase (BTK) inhibitor currently in a Phase 2 development, among other candidates. That deal closed last month.

Shares collapsed $4.05, or 4.6%, to $84.31