By Robert Stoneback
The Danville News
RIVERSIDE — Pharmaceutical company Merck announced Tuesday the reduction of about 8,500 positions worldwide, in addition to earlier announced cuts of 7,500 jobs.
It is not yet clear how many of those positions will be at Merck’s Cherokee Pharmaceutical facility located in Riverside.
“Unfortunately, we are not able to provide any greater breakdown of numbers at this time,” said Lainie Keller, of Merck’s global communications department.
The additional reductions are part of a global effort just announced Tuesday, said Keller.
The 8,500 cut jobs, combined with the pending 7,500 announced cuts, will see Merck shed about 20 percent of its global workforce of 81,000, according to a press release on the company’s website.
The reductions are part of “a global initiative to sharpen its commercial and research and development focus,” according to the press release.
Merck expects to save approximately $2.5 billion in annual net cost savings by the end of 2015, with $1 billion of those savings occurring by the end of 2014.
“These actions will make Merck a more competitive company, better positioned to drive innovation and to more effectively commercialize medicines and vaccines for the people who need them,” said Kenneth C. Frazier, Merck chairman and chief executive officer. “Today’s announcement further underscores that we are committed to improving our performance in the short term while also investing for the long term to create value for patients, customers and shareholders.”
In August, Merck announced the workforce at Cherokee’s Riverside plant would be reduced by 45 before the end of the year. The reduction would bring the plant’s total employees — several of whom commute more than an hour to work — to slightly more than 300.
“This action is part of our existing strategy and ongoing commitment to aggressively manage our cost structure and streamline our operating model. By doing so, we will ensure that we are able to bring our medicines and vaccines to those who need them while enabling us to deliver long-term value to our patients and shareholders,” read a Merck statement, issued by Riverside Plant Manager Brian Killen.
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