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Merck & Co (MRK) is a global pharmaceutical giant that manufactures key health products for human and animal health. They are the second largest company worldwide, as measured by market share. Grossing over $27 billion dollars annually, Merck are well known for producing leading scientific research and powerful pharmaceutical products. Since merging with Schering-Plough in 2009, the company has combined product lines for what they term is a “stronger pipeline” (new products in development) for supplying a demanding global market.

Epic products in the United States human sector include the Gardasil vaccine (first ever HPV vaccine), Fosamax, and Singular. They are best known in the animal health industry for Orbax (a once daily antibiotic), and Vetsulin (the first veterinary insulin product for dogs and cats). MRK also dominates a fair share of the over the counter market with standard household names such as Coppertone, Dr. Scholl’s, and Claritin.

Established in 1891, Merck & Co. was originally a subsidiary of a larger German pharmaceutical company Merck KGaA. Independence from this parent business was achieved during the First World War. Although both companies continue to operate, they are no longer linked in any way.

Merck & Co. are responsible for many scientific breakthroughs in the area of disease prevention, but one of the most notable occurred in 1963 when the first measles vaccine was introduced. A Mumps vaccine followed four years later, created from throat cultures taken from the leading scientists own daughter. Merck & Co, are also credited with the discovery of the highly effective drug, Streptomycin and later, Prednisone.

Merck stock prices are subject to the same fluctuations of value that affect other big Pharma companies. After remaining fairly stable in the 00’s, it rose significantly in 2007. They fell in 2009 to a low of twenty dollars per share, and have been inching their way back up.

Merck stock can be a good addition to a portfolio, regardless of current stock prices. With multiple products on varying phases of testing and production, the possibility for a revolutionary development is always just around the corner.

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