Merck to close plant in Ireland

Ireland is getting hit hard by Merck's efforts to cut manufacturing costs in the face of deflated profits and a squishy future. After targeting jobs at an API plant in Brinny, it nows intends to eliminate a plant in Rathdrum.

According to a Dublin radio station, Merck ($MRK) will phase out the plant at Rathdrum, and its 280 jobs. The company told workers it will begin winding down manufacturing in 2014 but jobs will not be trimmed until the end of next year, Newstalk 106-108 FM reports. MSD, as it is known outside the U.S., will move some production to contractors, as well as to plants in Singapore and elsewhere in Ireland. The station reports that MSD employs about 2,000 in the country.

In October, employees at a Merck plant in Brinny were told to expect about 20% job cuts there. That translates to about 90 jobs. In both cases, employees were told the decisions were not a reflection on their work but part of a global restructuring in the face of difficult times.

Merck has some promising drugs in its pipeline, but like other companies whose blockbuster drugs have been undercut by generics, it is dealing with a challenging revenue outlook. In Merck's case, the big hit has been to its allergy drug Singulair, and the impact came faster than expected. In its recent 2012 earnings report, it said profit declined 7.3% in the fourth quarter as sales of the blockbuster fell a breathtaking 67% to $480 million.

- here's the radio report