) recently announced that it has received US Food and Drug
Administration (FDA) approval for its transdermal patch, Oxytrol
for Women (oxybutynin transdermal system). The drug has been
approved for treating women suffering from overactive bladder
(OAB). The company expects the drug to be available from fall of
The FDA approval of Oxytrol for Women marks the first approval
of an over-the-counter (OTC) treatment for overactive bladder in
women. Oxytrol for Women has a proven safety profile with
oxybutynin, the active ingredient of the drug, being used for
treating OAB for more than 30 years.
The company licensed the exclusive commercialization rights
regarding Oxytrol for Women from Watson Pharmaceuticals, Inc.,
which is currently known as
The drug offers significant commercial potential. Merck stated
in its press release that although OAB, which affects more than
20 million women in the US, can be treated, more than 80% of
women with OAB remain untreated.
We note that Merck has entered into a challenging period with
erstwhile blockbuster drug, Singulair, losing exclusivity in the
US in early Aug 2012. Other headwinds remain in the form of EU
pricing pressure, US health care reform, unfavorable currency
movement, the Remicade/Simponi transition and pipeline
We believe the company will continue resorting to cost-cutting
initiatives to drive the bottom line. Meanwhile, some of the
company's recent launches are expected to start contributing
significantly to the top line in the coming quarters.
Merck carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Large-cap pharma
companies that currently look better-positioned include
). Both are Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) stocks.
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