New York State Teachers' Retirement System, Albany, has taken a paper loss of about $177.3 million on its holdings of pharmaceutical company Merck & Co. Inc., Whitehouse Station, N.J. The system owns about 8.59 million shares of Merck, which closed at $28.69 on Wednesday. On Sept. 30, the stock fell to $33 a share on news that the company's painkiller, Vioxx, caused heart attacks and strokes; it was $45.07 on Sept. 29, and its one-year high was $49.33 on Feb. 5. Spokesman John Cordillo said the $80.7 billion fund does not comment on specific holdings, and he did not know if it is planning a lawsuit against Merck.
Merck represents the latest in a string of losses in the fund's $44.7 billion equity portfolio. In October, it took a paper loss of $105 million on its holdings of American International Group Inc., and $32 million on its holdings of Marsh & McLennan Cos. The fund took a paper loss of about $12 million on its holdings of Delta Air Lines in September.