Merck anticipates saving a total of almost $4 billion by 2010. What areas should the company invest in?
There has been talk about pharmaceutical companies concentrating more on personalized medicine. For Merck, there's been noise
it'll be focusing on developing devices and diagnostics, which is a smart move. It's still one of the richest companies in
the world, so it will look at new technologies and better business-development deals. It is looking at moving into new therapeutic
areas, for example, like building a new oncology group. That's not one of the company's core competencies, which shows recognition
of the need to diversify. Merck will plow money into it.
What will this do for Merck's reputation? Do you think it'll need to revamp its image to build up investor and consumer confidence?
Merck and every other company. Big Pharma has lost patient confidence, and the public perception of the industry is pretty
negative. Merck is just one firm that needs to work on its image. It's formed a self-governing group on ethical marketing
of drugs, and there's been a call for putting a stop to DTC ads. It's trying to concentrate more on educational programs,
but Merck has abused [the DTC medium] in the past, so the public is a bit skeptical. But at the end of the day, it's very
hard to get away from the fact that Merck has been a great science-driven company.