Merck & Co Inc (MSD) has reported a significant increase in net income attributable to shareholders, reaching $4.76bn in the first quarter (Q1) of 2024, a 69% rise from $2.82bn in the first quarter of the previous year.

This financial performance reflects the company’s robust growth in key areas such as oncology and vaccines.

Sales for the first quarter of 2024 also saw an uptick, climbing by 9% to $15.77bn compared to $14.48bn in the same period of 2023.

The growth in sales was particularly notable in the oncology segment, where Keytruda, MSD’s cancer drug, experienced a 20% increase in sales to $6.9bn.

When adjusted for foreign exchange impacts, the sales growth for Keytruda was even more pronounced at 24%.

The company’s vaccine portfolio also contributed to the positive financial results, with Gardasil/Gardasil 9 sales growing by 14% to $2.2bn. Excluding the foreign exchange impact, the sales growth for these vaccines was 17%.

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MSD chair and CEO Robert Davis said: “Merck has begun 2024 with continuing momentum in our business. We are harnessing the power of innovation to advance our deep pipeline and are maximising the impact of our broad commercial portfolio for the benefit of patients.

“We drove strong growth across key therapeutic areas, executed strategic business development, and in the US, we are now launching Winrevair, a significant new product in the cardiometabolic space for adults with pulmonary arterial hypertension, a progressive and debilitating disease. We have important opportunities ahead of us across all areas of our business, and we are highly focused on realising them.”

Looking ahead, MSD has updated its full-year 2024 sales forecast. The company expects sales to be in the range of $63.1bn to $64.3bn.

This projection includes a negative impact from foreign exchange of nearly 3% at mid-April 2024 exchange rates.

Before this development, MSD announced plans to invest more than €300m ($320.8m) in a new Life Science Research Center at its global headquarters in Darmstadt, Germany.