Merck cutting more than 200 jobs in France and putting plant up for sale

Merck & Co. is building new plants to ramp up production for its top-selling cancer fighter Keytruda and Gardasil HPV vaccine while cutting back on older, underutilized facilities. (Merck & Co. )

Merck & Co.’s $1.2 billion restructuring of its manufacturing operations has fallen on a site in France, where more than 200 manufacturing and R&D jobs will be swept away and the site put up for sale. 

Merck is eliminating 101 production and 106 R&D jobs of the more than 575 positions at the Mirabel site in Riom, which manufactures and/or packages hospital and ophthalmic products, a Merck spokeswoman confirmed after a report in the French media.  

RELATED: Merck & Co. to close plants, cut jobs in $1.2B manufacturing squeeze

Workers were told that research and production has steadily declined at the site, leading Merck to consider discontinuing R&D there and find “a buyer capable of providing higher production volumes capable of maintaining activity and employment on a sustainable basis.”

According to a release emailed to FiercePharma, Merck said the whole process will be done transparently, and the "most appropriate means to support our employees will be implemented."

Merck last spring said it was undertaking a restructuring of its manufacturing operations as it de-emphasizes older drugs and ramps up biologic products like its specialized cancer fighter Keytruda and its Gardasil human papillomavirus vaccine Gardasil 9 

RELATED: Merck to build Gardasil 9 plant and add 425 jobs, but will cut 150 elsewhere

It didn’t say how many plants or jobs would be divested but said it expected the downsizing to cost about $1.2 billion, about 55% of it in compensation costs and the rest in “accelerated depreciation of facilities to be closed or divested.” 

Meanwhile, it is building a new plant in Ireland to produce Keytruda that is slated to employees 350 workers, and it's adding Gardasil production in the U.S. with plans to hire 425 workers.