MERCK’S second-quarter profit more than doubled, the company reported yesterday, as the second-biggest US drug maker by sales cut costs and benefited from a one-time gain on the sale of a business interest. Net income rose to $2 billion (R21bn), or 68c a share, from $906 million a year earlier, Merck said. Earnings a share excluding one-time items were 85c, beating the 81c average of 16 analysts’ estimates. Last year Merck said it would fire 8 500 workers in a move to save $1bn a year. Since then, it has been reprioritising its research. In the quarter to June it cut research and development costs by 21 percent to $1.7bn. Merck bought Idenix Pharmaceuticals in June for its experimental hepatitis C drug. – Bloomberg