Ahead of a speech by its chief executive Fred Hassan at an investor conference tomorrow, Schering-Plough has announced that its R&D expenses are expected to grow faster than adjusted net sales for the fourth quarter of 2007 due to an increasing number of patients in clinical trials of the company's drug candidates.

Noting that its R&D expenses will continue to grow in 2008, S-P says that the rises are especially due to new Phase III trials for the HIV thrombin receptor antagonist vicriviroc and recently in-licensed products. The New Jersey-headquartered firm added that the fourth-quarter and 2008 performance of the cholesterol drugs Vytorin (ezetimibe and simvastatin) and Zetia (ezetimibe), sold through a joint venture with Merck & Co, should be impressive but some of its key brands are facing growing competition.

Mr Hassan is also expected to discuss the company's recent purchase of Organon BioSciences at the Morgan Stanley Pharmaceutical CEOs Unplugged Conference tomorrow where he will take part in a question-and-answer session. He will confirm that the Organon buy is anticipated to be accretive to S-P's earnings per share by about $0.10 in the first full year, excluding acquisition-related costs, and annual synergies of $500 million should be achieved three years from the closing of the deal.