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Merck's Pipeline And Press Progress

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AP

Sitting here at Merck's annual drug research and development for the Street in the media room at the company's headquarters in central New Jersey.

This year, for the first time, MRK is allowing reporters into the actual meeting room with the 300 or so analysts and investors. The downside is you can't go in and out, so once you're in you're stuck there until there's a break...and that's not practical for reporters. Most, if not all of the reporters are remaining in the press room where they can use their laptops, phones, BlackBerrys, etc. and come and go as they please.

But the gesture by Merck is appreciated.

I remember not too long ago when I first started working this beat many of the major drug companies weren't accustomed to having TV coverage of their analyst meetings. The business press for the sector had pretty much been confined to wire and newspaper reporters.

Some, like Merck, didn't know what to do with me. For example, I was covering my first December analyst meeting here. They let me come onto the property and sit in the press room with notepad and pen and no camera. But our satellite truck had to stay off site--approximately a mile away.

So, whenever I had to do a live shot, a PR person would drive me off the gated campus and out to the shoulder of the road to file my reports. It was an inconvenience, to say the least. Eventually most companies have come around, though, and now show CNBC and other electronic media outlets the same hospitality as our print brethren. We really don't bite after all!

Today, not only am I inside, but our sat truck is parked right outside the main building so we can easily string in cable for my live reports and the exclusive interview with MRK executive VP and head of global human health, Ken Frazier.

Originally I blogged that I'd be talking to Merck Chairman and CEO Dick Clark, but the company asked for the switch last night and we obliged. Media relations is a two-way street.