Merck & Co., which is reorganizing to slash $2.5 billion in costs and 8,500 workers, has informed Pennsylvania officials that it will cut 600 jobs at facilities in North Wales and Lansdale.
The cuts were disclosed in an official notice posted on the state Department of Labor and Industry website. According to the notice, the effective date is Aug. 26.
Steven Cragle, spokesman for the Whitehouse Station, N.J.-based pharmaceutical giant, said Friday that the notice was sent in June, and that employees losing their jobs would be mostly field-based salespeople who call on family doctors and medical facilities. He said the salespeople might be based in Montgomery County offices but actually work in other states.
"This was primarily due to the reduction in sales and marketing for products associated with our primary-care and hospital and specialty businesses," Cragle said.
The company, one of the largest employers in the Philadelphia suburbs, announced in October that it would eliminate 8,500 jobs, or more than 10 percent of its workforce. About 40 percent of the cutbacks were to be done in 2014, Merck said, with the remainder in 2015.
The reduction would take place relatively equally among sales and administration and Merck's research operation.
Like other big pharmaceutical manufacturers, Merck has been hurt by expiring patents on blockbuster drugs and by generic competition. At the time Merck announced the cuts, the company was experiencing slowed sales growth for one of its biggest franchises, the diabetes drugs Januvia and Janumet. In addition, sales of Merck's asthma drug Singulair had plunged because of generic competition.
A top Merck official said the reorganization and cost cuts would free economic resources for acquisitions or licensing deals.