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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Merck Net Income Up

WHITEHOUSE STATION, New Jersey -- Merck & Co. Inc., the No. 1 U.S. drug company, said Monday its first-quarter net income rose a better-than-expected 15 percent, paced by strong sales of its arthritis drug, Vioxx.

Merck, which is one of 30 members of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, said net income rose to $1.5 billion, or 63 cents per share, from $1.3 billion, or 54 cents, in the year-ago quarter.

Total sales rose 17 percent to $8.9 billion, led by the company's blockbuster drug Vioxx, which was launched last year and is locked in an all-out battle against Pharmacia Corp.'s Celebrex.