Merck whacks 600 sales reps as part of 8,500 bloodletting

Merck is going through a complete makeover, buying and selling units at a rapid pace. And some of its employees are getting caught in its "out with the old and in with the new" philosophy. Now 600 sales reps have been told their services are no longer needed

According to The Wall Street Journal blog, Pharmalot, Merck ($MRK) filed a notice that it would eliminate 600 positions at the end of August. A spokeswoman told Pharmalot that the jobs were part of its larger retrenchment announced last fall and were sales positions around the country.

Merck in October said it was cutting 8,500 jobs as part of a $2.5 billion restructuring in the face of patent losses. It lost protection last year on its best-selling Singulair, for one, losing 90% of the drug's revenue. Merck has been one of the biggest job cutters in recent years, laying off 12,000 to 13,000 in 2012 then announcing the 8,500 cuts last year.

In the last couple of months, the drugmaker has sold off its consumer health unit to Bayer for $14.2 billion and bought Idenix Pharmaceuticals ($IDX) and its hep C drug candidates for $3.8 billion. It is reportedly shopping around some of its older meds, products that might be worth up to $15 billion.

- read the Pharmalot post

Special Report: The top 10 largest pharma layoffs in 2013 - Merck