Coverage: Drug company Merck cutting 1,800 sales jobs
Merck is eliminating 1,800 sales jobs nationwide, but then adding 960 positions to a new chronic-care sales force, the company said.
Linda Loyd of the Philadelphia Inquirer had the story:
“It’s a net change of about 1,000 jobs,” said Merck spokeswoman Tracy Ogden. “We do not know at this time how many positions may be local, however, the affected 1,800 positions are spread throughout the country.”
When the reorganization is completed, Merck will have more than 12,000 jobs in Pennsylvania, including 3,000 in research and another 3,000 in manufacturing. “Due to the location of its corporate campuses and its research and manufacturing facilities at West Point, Merck has more employees in Pennsylvania than any other state,” the company said.
Merck’s manufacturing plant in West Point is the drug maker’s largest manufacturing site. Merck is the largest private sector employer in Montgomery County and the 14th largest in the state.
Eric Sagonowsky of Fierce Pharma reported that other drug companies have made similar layoffs:
Merck plans to staff up to 960 on its new chronic care force. Employees who lose their jobs can apply for positions there, or apply for other posts elsewhere in the company, Gillespie said.
Those who don’t opt in for new positions will receive a “comprehensive separation package” that includes pay, benefits and more; the layoffs will take effect January 2. No jobs are moving outside of the U.S.
Merck didn’t specify which teams it’s cutting.
With the move, Merck joins the ranks of top pharma companies to undergo large-scale layoffs this year such as Eli Lilly, which in September announced 3,500 cuts, and beleaguered Teva, which is in the process of scaling down manufacturing and laying off 7,000 employees.
Peter Loftus of The Wall Street Journal reported that those losing their jobs including sales people who call on hospitals and primary care doctors:
Merck is eliminating three sales teams comprising reps who promote drugs to primary-care doctors, endocrinologists and drugs used in hospitals.
At the same time, Merck said it would create a new “chronic care” sales team of 960 reps who will promote its top-selling drug, diabetes treatment Januvia, plus insomnia medication Belsomra and drugs for respiratory diseases and women’s health. Merck also hopes to begin selling two new diabetes drugs if regulators approve them.
Employees being laid off can apply for the new sales positions or other open jobs at Merck, said spokeswoman Claire Gillespie.
Merck said the changes are “part of ongoing companywide efforts to sharpen Merck’s focus on innovative R&D that addresses significant unmet medical needs and on our best opportunities for growth, while reducing overall costs.”