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WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J. (AP) _ Drug maker Merck & Co. said its earnings for the second quarter and the year will likely be slightly below expectations because of lower-than-anticipated sales of Vioxx, its arthritis and acute pain medication.

Merck said Friday it expects second-quarter earnings of 77 cents to 79 cents per share. The pharmaceutical company said it also expects per-share earnings of $3.12 to $3.18 for the entire year.

The estimates are slightly lower than what analysts by surveyed Thomson Financial/First Call had expected: 81 cents per share for the second quarter and $3.20 per share for the year.

In addition to the slower sales of Vioxx, the company also cited adverse impact from foreign exchange as a factor prompting the downward revision.

Vioxx and five other drugs now account for more than 60 percent of Merck's worldwide sales of medicines for people. These drugs include cholesterol medicine Zocor, the osteoporosis drug Fosamax, the nonsteroidal asthma pill Singulair, and two similar blood-pressure medications, Cozaar and Hyzaar.


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