Merck & Co. muscling up Irish production with 200 hires

Merck & Co. ($MRK) may have just come off a middling year financially, but that is not keeping it from adding some manufacturing jobs in Ireland. MSD, as it is known outside the U.S., says it intends to add 200 jobs at three sites there this year, most at its vaccine plant.

MSD Associate VP Ger Carmody

Merck, the second largest vaccine maker by revenue, said Monday that it intends to add 110 jobs at its plant in Carlow, the company's only standalone vaccine and biologics facility outside the U.S. Another 50 positions will be needed at its fermentation and sterile filling operation in Cork and 40 more at its active pharmaceutical ingredient making facility in Tipperary. The drugmaker currently has about 2,000 workers at 5 sites in Ireland, which includes operations in Dublin and Wicklow, as well as in Carlow, Cork, and Tipperary.

Ger Carmody, an associate VP from MSD in Ireland, said that the manufacturing plants there help produce more than 60% of the global top 20 products for the Kenilworth, NJ-based company. That includes some of its new cancer treatments and its recently approved hepatitis C regimen. Merck late last month got FDA approval of its new hep C combo pill, Zepatier, and is hoping it and its cancer drug Keytruda can perk up its earnings this year.

Two weeks ago, the drugmaker reported 2015 revenues of $39.5 billion, essentially flat compared with 2014 after backing out foreign exchange. It is forecasting single-digit growth for revenues and earnings this year.

The hires come after the drugmaker, which has trimmed about 36,000 jobs since its 2009 merger with Schering-Plough, indicated last year that most of what it still needs to cut from that merger would come from its manufacturing operations. In a financial filing last year, it said that targeted cuts to administrative and sales were pretty much finalized by the end of 2013, but that there were still about 2,585 positions to go and most of those would come from its manufacturing network. A spokesperson said at the time that plants targeted for offloading in Italy and France would account for much of those trims.

- here's the release