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Merck to spin off women’s health and biosimilar drug businesses

February 05, 2020 / MICHAEL ERMAN

Merck & Co Inc said on Wednesday it will spin off its women’s health, biosimilar drugs and older products into a separate publicly traded company as it tightens its focus on growth drivers like cancer drug Keytruda and vaccines. The new company’s assets currently make up around 15 per cent of Merck’s total sales and around half of its drugs that treat people. Merck will retain its animal health business, as well as drugs used for acute care in hospitals such as Bridion, which reverses the effects of anesthesia. Merck shares fell 3.7 per cent to $85.12 after the U.S. drugmaker also reported quarterly Keytruda sales below Wall Street’s lofty estimates. The spinoff is a culmination of the drugmaker’s strategy of concentrating on a few key areas, particularly oncology, where Merck has turned the immunotherapy Keytruda into one of the world’s top selling drugs, Merck Chief Executive Ken Frazier said in an interview.