FAIRLESS HILLS, PA —
Surging sales of its cancer medicines and reduced spending across the board helped Merck overcome a big hit from the coronavirus pandemic and increase its profit 12% in the second quarter.

The drugmaker boosted its financial forecast for the year Friday even as it spends heavily on the development of two experimental vaccines and a possible treatment for COVID-19.

The pandemic kept many people away from doctors and veterinarians, cutting into sales for nearly all medicines produced by the Kenilworth, New Jersey, company. Revenue fell 8%, to $10.87 billion, from $11.76 billion.

However, sales of immuno-oncology blockbuster Keytruda and other cancer drugs rose, partly due to approvals for new uses or patient groups.

Merck posted net income of $3.0 billion, or $1.18 per share, up from $2.67 million, or $1.03 per share, a year earlier.

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