Merck & Co. Inc. (NYSE:MRK) Q2 2020 Earnings Conference Call - Final Transcript

Jul 31, 2020 • 08:00 am ET


Merck & Co. Inc. (NYSE:MRK) Q2 2020 Earnings Conference Call - Final Transcript


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Kenneth C. Frazier

and animal health products or our clinical trial. As expected, social distancing measures in many regions negatively impacted second quarter volume for many of our products. However, customer access to care is steadily improving, including in our portfolio vaccine, which was hit particularly hard this quarter. We remain confident that our innovative portfolio will drive strong long-term growth.

Our financial strength also allows us to execute on our capital allocation priorities, including continuing to invest in internal R&D and business development. In addition to advancing our strategic priority, we also achieved significant progress on our plans to spin-off Organon & Co., which remains on track to be completed in the first half of 2021. We remain confident that creating two, more focused companies will result in each being stronger and better positioned in an evolving healthcare landscape, which will benefit the patients we serve and our shareholders. We recently announced appointments of several talented and experienced leaders from outside the company to the strong leadership team, and they are already deeply engaged in driving the various work streams underway to setup the standalone company for success.

Before Roger provides more detail, I'd like to say a few words on the multiple efforts underway within Merck on the COVID-19 front. COVID-19 represents a tremendous challenge to the biopharmaceutical research community. And Merck is moving with urgency to apply our deep expertise in vaccines and infectious diseases to our potential solution.

During the quarter, we announced two vaccine development efforts. One, through a collaboration with IAVI. And the other, through a now completed acquisition of Themis. We selected these candidates because they are based on proven platforms that we anticipate will lead safe, effective and broadly deployable vaccine with the promise of single dosage. Both vaccine candidates will soon enter the clinic, and we have begun investing to facilitate our ability to manufacture hundreds of millions of doses. We also announced a program to develop a novel, orally-available, antiviral candidate through a collaboration with Ridgeback Bio. This compound has advanced into Phase 2 clinical trial.

We are optimistic about the prospects for these three programs. and if successful, Merck is committed to working with others to create broad, affordable and equitable global access. These programs illustrate our continued commitment to supplementing internal capabilities with innovative external science. Roger will provide more details on the significant progress being made in our research activities elsewhere.

More broadly, the biopharmaceutical industries' response to COVID-19 has been extraordinary. Our industry is uniquely positioned to address this public health challenge on a global scale. Collaboration across the scientific, public health and biopharmaceutical industry community will be key to successfully finding solutions for this pandemic, and to help ensure that we are adequately prepared for the next. We are confident that science will ultimately prevail over COVID-19 with new medicines and vaccines.

Let me conclude by expressing our gratitude to the frontline healthcare workers as well as to our own employees, who have worked to help patients affected