Merck and the Vioxx Rut

Category: Vioxx

More Info: Defective Drugs

Merck’s stock price is starting to climb out of its hole this year, but the drug giant still faces a long uphill climb fraught with obstacles if it ever plans to get to its pre-Vioxx scandal levels.

Merck’s (up $0.19 to $36.62, Charts) stock price gained more than 14 percent year-to-date through June 30, far outpacing the gains of drug industry as a whole and the S&P 500, which each rose 1.8 percent. Compare this to the market leader Pfizer (up $0.11 to $23.58, Charts), which has seen its price climb less than 1 percent year-to-date.Merck’s gain isn’t too shabby, considering the company’s stock plunged nearly 27 percent on its Day of Infamy — Sept. 30, 2004. That’s the day America’s no. 2 drugmaker pulled Vioxx, an arthritis painkiller, off the market, following a study that linked the drug to increased risks of heart attack and stroke. This has since been a major concern for the company, which not only lost $2.5 billion in annual sales but now faces about 11,500 Vioxx-related lawsuits.

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