- 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
- How was finasteride invented?
- Merck’s Propecia business
- Since 1994, Merck has been aware of unresolved sexual dysfunction in men who stopped taking finasteride
- The Merck files, part 3: Propecia lawsuits
- The Merck files, part 2: Merck responds to regulatory concerns about persistent adverse effects of Propecia
- The Merck files, part 1: An inside look at the development of Propecia
- The Merck files: a series
- Merck communications regarding reports of persistent erectile dysfunction and depression associated with finasteride