June 12 Merck & Co Inc's research chief
Roger Perlmutter said the No. 2 U.S. drugmaker would consider
big acquisitions of biotech companies for their medicines,
rather than to obtain their drug-development technologies.
Perlmutter, speaking on Thursday to analysts and investors
at the annual Goldman Sachs healthcare conference being held
near Los Angeles, said Merck continues to have an appetite for
deals following its planned $3.85 billion purchase of Idenix
Merck earlier this week announced its agreement to buy
Idenix, and plans to combine the two companies' most promising
oral drugs for hepatitis C to produce a faster, more effective
cure for the often-fatal liver infection affecting 170 million
Perlmutter on Thursday said Merck has been a pioneer in
development of hepatitis C drugs, including injectable
interferon medicines that had been the backbone of therapy but
which are now being sidelined in favor of more effective and
He said newer Merck drugs, including a hoped-for triple
therapy using an experimental Idenix treatment called IDX21437,
will make Merck a top hepatitis C competitor in years to come.
"The best (drug) regimen that has a fair cost proposition
will take a substantial part of the market and that's where I
want to be," he said.
Perlmutter could not immediately be reached by Reuters for
further comment, including what he meant by "fair cost
The company's shares were little change at $58.30 in
afternoon trading on the New York Stock Exchange.
(Reporting by Ransdell Pierson; Editing by Bernard Orr)