Merck chief hints at job-cutting strategy

For those of you looking for signs--any signs--of just where Merck's post-merger jobs axe might fall, check out the Wall Street Journal Health Blog's coverage of CEO Dick Clark (photo). And if you're thinking sales, you're right. At a Goldman Sachs event, Clark told the audience that Merck would "obviously eliminate some of the duplication" in the sales force that was created when the company closed its merger with Schering-Plough last year. The company might also contract out some sales work, he added.

But though sales may be an obvious choice for cuts, it's not the only one. Manufacturing will likely take a hit, Clark said. Merck has been cutting back on manufacturing for several years, leaving it with 25 plants before the merger. Now, with Schering under its wing, it has 96. "I think there's an opportunity there," he said.

Other administrative functions besides sales will probably take a hit. Clark pointed out duplication in marketing organizations and corporate functions as well. And then there's R&D. The number of research sites is "something that has to be looked at," Clark said.

- read the Health Blog post