Competition from generics and the withdrawal of the pain pill Vioxx in 2004 over heart risks have pulled net income down 39% since 2001. However, sales of Gardasil, a cervical cancer shot, and other vaccines more than doubled. The company's sales grew 12% to $6.07 billion.
Net income increased to $1.53 billion from $941 million a year earlier. Excluding acquisition and restructuring costs, the Whitehouse Station, N.J., company earned 75 cents a share.
Meanwhile, the third-quarter profit of German pharmaceutical and chemical company Merck KGaA declined 75% on writedowns related to its purchase of Swiss biotech firm Serono.
The company, whose products include cancer drug Erbitux and multiple sclerosis treatment Rebif, earned $51.6 million in the July-September period. The company's operating profit rose nearly 56 percent to $415.5 million. The company's sales rose 5% to $2.38 billion. Its liquid crystals operation, which makes the crystals used in computer displays, saw sales rise 15% to $339.25 million.
The company's pharmaceuticals continued to show strong gains, with sales of Rebif--part of the drug development pipeline acquired in the Serono deal--up 4.1%. Sales of Erbitux, which it licensed from ImClone Systems Inc., were up 36% in the quarter.
Merck of Germany is the oldest drug company in the world, and has been separate from the U.S.-based Merck & Co. since the end of World War I.