(Wilmington--DE) At a joint press conference today, pharmaceutical giant Merck and tobacco tower Philip Morris announced that they will merge. The union became destined when both companies realized that "our products kill people," said Merck CEO Richard "Dick" Clark, "and since Congress gave us a blank check with the prescription drug bill."
"It's a synergy that has long been anticipated. Please pass the caviar," said controversial "money honey" Mario Bartiromo, who took time out from her busy schedule of flying around on corporate jets while remaining an impartial analyst . But less removed, though equally greedy, Wall Street insiders agree. "If this merger would have happened when I was still head of the NYSE, I'd have cleared the GDP of Kuwait in my pension package," said Dick Grasso between nibbling on hand peeled grapes fed to him by his newly adopted 14 year old Latvian twin daughters.
Louis Camilleri, the CEO of Philip Morris parent company Altria, sees the pending merger as one that will be viewed as a company milestone. "It's right up there with when we used to have doctors advertise for us. So I say to my colleague 'welcome home.'" At which point, Camilleri offered Clark a Marlboro and Clark returned the gesture by presenting the Altria CEO with Merck's star cancer drug, Erbitux. "If you use this," smiled Clark while lighting up the Marlboro, "you'll need that."
Food and drug stock analysts believe that the merger could significantly increase shareholder value, not so much by increasing profit but through a new business model, death. "The combined use of both products by shareholders causes earlier death and therefore leaves more profit distribution due to a diminished shareholder base," said analyst Charles Ponzi IV. "Reducing cost margins through death, it's a unique model." In fact, there's already a course on it slated for the Fall Semester at the Wharton School of Business, though prior to the finalized merger it will only be offered pass/fail.
President Bush was asked his thoughts on the merger while participating in a pancake judging competition in Skokie, Illinois, where he was still campaigning for his revision of Social Security. "If this merger occurs, not only drugs but cigarettes will be covered under Medicare. If that's not smooth smoking menthol goodness, I don't know what is. Now, pass the syrup."
FUN FACT: If you took all the smoking related deaths since 1966 and put them up against a statistical model of deaths that would have occurred if Vioxx were still on the market, cigarettes kill 45% less.