Merck said Monday its third-quarter profit rose 7 percent as lower costs offset a revenue dip stemming from the loss of sales from Vioxx...

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NEW YORK — Merck said Monday its third-quarter profit rose 7 percent as lower costs offset a revenue dip stemming from the loss of sales from Vioxx, the pain reliever the company withdrew last year.

Meanwhile, Schering-Plough said its profit more than tripled on strong sales as the company continues to march toward a turnaround.

And Berlin-based Schering said its third-quarter profits grew 29 percent on stronger sales of its birth-control drug and lowered costs.

Merck, which also makes Zocor for high cholesterol and the osteoporosis treatment Fosamax, reported net income of $1.42 billion, or 65 cents per share. That beat by 3 cents a share the consensus forecast of analysts surveyed by Thomson Financial.

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In the same period of 2004, Merck posted net income of $1.33 billion, or 60 cents per share, and took a charge of $141 million for costs related to withdrawing Vioxx.

Merck withdrew Vioxx after a study showed it doubled patients’ risk of heart attack and stroke after 18 months of use.

Merck shares rose 82 cents, or 3.1 percent, to close at $27 Monday on the New York Stock Exchange.

Merck got a boost from sales of Singulair, a drug for asthma and seasonal allergies that rose 11 percent to $692 million, but sales of Fosamax were flat and sales of Zocor, Merck’s No. 1 drug, fell 14 percent to $1 billion.

“We must improve our performance over the long term, and I truly believe we can,” said Richard Clark, who took over as Merck’s CEO and president in May. Merck said it expects earnings per share for 2005 to total $2.47 to $2.51, excluding charges. Analysts were forecasting earnings per share of $2.49.

Merck said that as of Sept. 30, it has been named as a defendant in about 6,400 lawsuits over Vioxx.

It lost the first Vioxx trial and a second one is under way in New Jersey.