- Estimated Propecia revenue from 1999–2015: $5.2 billion
- Rough estimate of operating profit from Propecia: $4.2 billion
Merck received FDA approval for Propecia (finasteride 1 mg/day) in December 1997. Sales in the first year of marketing were reported to be $76 million. The peak years were 2010–2011, when Merck reported $447 million in Propecia sales in each year. In total, Merck booked an estimated $5.2 billion in sales of Propecia.
We can roughly estimate Merck’s operating profit from Propecia. The New York Times reported in 1998 that Propecia development costs were $450 million. Ad Age reported an advertising campaign of $50–$60 million in 1998, the first year of marketing in the U.S. An average marketing spend of $30 million per year over 18 years would total $540 million. This implies total estimated research and marketing costs of $1 billion and an estimated profit of $4.2 billion from 1998–2015.
To learn more about the marketing of Propecia, see news stories from 1997 to the early 2000s.
Revenue data sources: 1998 data reported in Advertising Age, 1999 Sep 27;70(40). 2003–2015 data from Merck 10-K and 11-K SEC filings. E = estimate. Missing data is estimated assuming linear growth from 1998 to 2003. Propecia sales were not reported after 2015.
More on Merck
- The lost men: how Merck, GSK papered over bad outcomes in trials
- The lost men – appendix
- How Merck buried finasteride’s full impact on hormone signaling
- Elements of a drug safety disaster
- Rules of engagement: how sensitive concerns are hidden from drug trials
- Polls vs. official data on side effect rates
- Hair or manhood—choose one?
- Meta-analysis launders safety data from old pharma trials; blames patients for drug harms
- How was finasteride invented?
- Merck’s Propecia business