The company develops medicines, vaccines, biologic therapies and animal health products. In 2020, the company had 6 blockbuster drugs or products, each with over $1 billion in revenue: Keytruda (pembrolizumab), a humanized antibody used in cancer immunotherapy that had $14.3 billion in 2020 revenue; Januvia (sitagliptin), an anti-diabetic medication used to treat type 2 diabetes that had $5.3 billion in 2020 revenue; Gardasil, an HPV vaccine that had $3.9 billion in 2020 revenue; Varivax, a varicella vaccine used to protect against chickenpox that had $1.9 billion in 2020 revenues; Bridion (Sugammadex), a neuromuscular-blocking drug that had $1.2 billion in 2020 revenue; and Pneumovax 23, a pneumococcal polysaccharide vaccine that had $1.1 billion in 2020 revenue. Other major products by the company include Isentress (raltegravir), an antiretroviral medication used to treat HIV/AIDS that had $857 million in 2020 revenue; Simponi (golimumab), a human monoclonal antibody used as an immunosuppressive drug that had $838 million in 2020 revenue; RotaTeq, a rotavirus vaccine that had $797 million in 2020 revenue; and Lynparza (olaparib), a medication for the maintenance treatment of BRCA-mutated advanced ovarian cancer in adults that generated $725 million in 2020 revenue for the company.
Details of Merck’s major products are as follows:
- Januvia (sitagliptin) is a dipeptidyl peptidase IV inhibitor for the treatment of type 2 diabetes. In 2013, Januvia was the second largest selling diabetes drug worldwide. Januvia is commonly paired with the generic anti-diabetes drug metformin. It has been popular due in part because unlike many other diabetes drugs, it causes little or no weight gain and is not associated with hypoglycemic episodes. Merck also sells a single pill combination drug containing both Januvia and metformin under the trade name Janumet. There has been some concern that treatment with Januvia and other DPP-IV inhibitors may be associated with a modestly increased risk of pancreatitis.
- Zetia (ezetimibe) is a drug for hypercholesterolemia that acts by inhibiting the absorption of dietary cholesterol. Zetia has been controversial, as it was initially approved based on its impact on serum cholesterol levels without proof that it actually impacted the incidence of cardiovascular disease. Results of the IMPROVE-IT study, however, introduced at the 2014 Scientific Sessions of the American Heart Association, showed a statistically significant, albeit modest, benefit in adding Zetia to simvastatin for high-risk, post-acute-coronary-syndrome patients.
- Remicade (infliximab) is a monoclonal antibody directed toward the cytokine TNF-alpha and used for the treatment of a wide range of autoimmune disorders, including rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease, ankylosing spondylitis, plaque psoriasis, and others. Remicade and other TNF-alpha inhibitors exhibit additive therapeutic effects with methotrexate and improve quality of life. Adverse effects include increased risk of infection and certain cancers. Merck had rights to the drug in certain areas, while Janssen Biotech had rights in other areas; in 2017, Merck announced a biosimilar to Remicade, Renflexis.
- Gardasil (recombinant human papilloma virus vaccine) is a vaccine against multiple serotypes of human papilloma virus (HPV), which is responsible for most cases of cervical cancer worldwide.
- Isentress (raltegravir) is a human immunodeficiency virus integrase inhibitor for the treatment of HIV infection. It is the first anti-HIV compound having this mechanism of action. It is part of one of several first line treatment regimens recommended by the United States Department of Health and Human Services.
- Keytruda (pembrolizumab) is an immune modulator for the treatment of cancer. On September 4, 2014, the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved Pembrolizumab (MK-3475) as a breakthrough therapy for melanoma treatment. In clinical trials, pembrolzumab provided partial tumor regression in about one quarter of patients, many of whom have not seen further progression of their disease in over 6 months of follow-up.
- Invanz (Ertapenem) is an injectable antibiotic, rights to which Merck has owned since 1999. Merck was in a legal dispute with the Taiwanese company Savior Lifetec over their attempt to secure rights to sell a generic drug version in the United States. Savior has since obtained approval to market generic ertapenem.
- Mexsana is an antiseptic medicated powder.
- Molnupiravir is an antiviral pill to treat covid-19, developed in partnership with Ridgeback Biotherapeutics.
Merck & Co. publishes The Merck Manuals, a series of medical reference books for physicians, nurses, technicians, and veterinarians. These include the Merck Manual of Diagnosis and Therapy, the world’s best-selling medical reference. The Merck Index, a compendium of chemical compounds, was published by Merck & Co. until it was acquired by the Royal Society of Chemistry in 2012.