Merck targets 570 jobs in Ireland on its way to cutting 8,500 positions globally

Merck ($MRK) two months ago laid out plans for its fourth restructuring in 5 years, saying it would whack 8,500 jobs from its R&D and commercial operations and cut $2.5 billion in costs globally. And global the cuts have been, with 130 jobs being targeted at its women's healthcare production plant in Swords, Ireland in the next 6 months. The rest of the 570 jobs at the plant are to go by the end of 2017.

Merck said it would look for a buyer for the Irish facility, according to the Independent, as it is with other real estate that has become available as the drugmaker tries to slim its operations. When Merck announced the plans Oct. 1, it said the company would move its headquarters to an existing campus in Kenilworth, NJ, abandoning its previous plans to relocate from Whitehouse Station to Summit, NJ. It said it would close both the Whitehouse and Summit locations. Last week it put out a brochure for the sale of the Summit facility, which has a pilot plant, clinical trial supply capacity and warehouses, as well as office space.

The overhaul is slated to trim global employment by 20% as the drugmaker struggles with losing patent protection for a number of products. Its one-time top-selling drug, Singulair, saw sales plummet by 90% immediately upon patent expiration last year. The allergy drug only coughed up $618 million for the first half of this year, down from $2.8 billion for the same period of 2012. The company has already announced plant closures in the U.S. and Puerto Rico but also has been cutting R&D jobs and making cuts in other areas. CEO Kenneth Frazier has also indicated it might spin off its consumer health and animal health operations.

While Merck has been through this routine more than some of its peers, it is far from playing this role solo. Forest Laboratories ($FRX) Monday announced a $500 million restructuring plan. Teva Pharmaceutical Industries ($TEVA) is in the midst of a $2 billion plus cost-cutting program laid about by Jeremy Levin before he left in October after a tiff with the board about those plans.

- here's the Independent article