Merck Takes Some Growth Pills

It says new drugs should allay investors' fears

To hear Raymond V. Gilmartin tell it, drug industry leader Merck & Co. is poised to do the unthinkable. In the years 2000 and 2001, Merck will see U.S. patents expire on five big drugs that will be generating about $5 billion in worldwide sales. Other giants that have faced patent expirations on blockbuster drugs have seen sharply lower revenues and earnings growth as cheaper generics gobble up sales. But Gilmartin contends Merck's stable of new drugs will more than offset the drop, allowing it to generate growth rates competitive with industry leaders. "Merck has defied conventional wisdom before," he asserts.

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