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Merck KGaA (MKGAF) enrolled the first patient in a phase III study (ESPART) on Pergoveris. Merck KGaA is evaluating Pergoveris for multifollicular development as part of an Assisted Reproductive Technology (ART) treatment cycle in women classified as poor ovarian responders (POR).

The multicenter, randomized, controlled, single-blind, parallel Espart study is designed to assess the efficacy and safety of Pergoveris in comparison with Gonal-f (used in the treatment of infertility). The primary endpoint of the study is the total number of retrieved oocytes. Ongoing pregnancy rate, live birth rate, embryo implantation rate, clinical pregnancy rate and biochemical pregnancy rate constitute the secondary endpoints of the study.

As per the World Health Organization, over 72.4 million people are affected by infertility globally and 15% of them resort to medical treatments.

Infertility is one of the main focus area of Merck KGaA’s largest division, Merck Serono. This study is part of Merck KGaA’s commitment toward achieving the shared goal of increasing pregnancy rates and addressing the challenges to fertility.

Pergoveris is approved by the European commission/available in the EU for the stimulation of follicular development in women with severe luteinizing hormone (LH) and follicle stimulating hormone (FSH) deficiency.

Merck Serono’s revenues decreased 0.7% in 2013 due to currency headwinds of 4.6%. Rebif sales grew organically by 1.4% in the year. Gonal-f sales fell organically by 0.7% in 2013 due to an adverse foreign exchange impact of 3.5%.

Merck KGaA carries a Zacks Rank #3 (Hold). Investors looking for better-ranked stocks in the MEDICAL sector may consider companies like Salix Pharmaceuticals Ltd. (SLXP - Analyst Report), Actavis (ACT - Analyst Report) and Lannett Co., Inc. (LCI - Snapshot Report). Actavis carries a Zacks Rank #2 (Buy) while Lannett and Salix carry a Zacks Rank #1 (Strong Buy).

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