Schering-Plough reported wider losses in the fourth quarter of 2004 – coming in at some $856 million dollars in the red, versus last year’s $181 million loss [[27/01/04b]], as the company took an $807 million tax provision during the three months, which relates to recently enacted US legislation, allowing companies to repatriate funds held by foreign subsidiaries to the US at a much-reduced tax rate. However, sales for the period rose a not insignificant 12% to $2.2 billion, including a favourable currency exchange rate, and the firm’s recently announced marketing alliance with Bayer, which contributed $91 million [[13/09/04b]].

Global prescription drug revenues, excluding the cholesterol products, Vytorin (ezetimibe/simvastatin) and Zetia (ezetimibe) marketed together with Merck & Co, climbed 15% to $1.7 billion. The brain cancer treatment, Temodar (temozolamide), rose 72% in the quarter to $150 million, while the anti-inflammatory, Remicade (infliximab), was up 33% to $212 million and the oncology agent, Caelyx (pegylated liposomal doxorubicin), climbed 25% to $40 million. The allergyproducts, Clarinex (desloratadine) and Nasonex (mometasone), rose 22% to $162 million and 10% to $145 million respectively. On a slightly darker note, the hepatitis C products continued to see declining sales as a result of increasing competition – Peg-Intron (eginterferon alfa-2b) was down 15% to $138 million and Rebetol (ribavirin) sank 51% to $49 million.

“During 2004, we did what we said we would do,” said Fred Hassan, the firm’s chairman and chief executive. “We go into 2005 with much accomplished and still much work ahead… We continue to anticipate beginning a turnaround later this year.” The company says it has made much progress on its action agenda, which aims to turn the once-troubled firm around, and is seeing the beginnings of top-line growth, adding that Vytorin and Zetia are now at the centre of this turnaround, with annual sales in excess of $1 billion.