Merck & Co., Whitehouse Station, N.J., plans to lay off 7,000 employees worldwide, or 11% of its workforce, by the end of 2008, as part of a restructuring estimated to save the company a total of $3.5 billion to $4 billion from 2006 to 2010. Half the layoffs will take place in the U.S. Merck also will change its supply strategy. Merck said it intends to sell or close five of its 31 manufacturing plants and close two preclinical development facilities and one research site by the end of 2008. Merck Chief Executive Officer Richard Clark said in a news release that the restructuring, aimed at reducing cost structure and increasing efficiency, is the first step in repositioning the company to meet current and future challenges. Merck has struggled to recover from the 2004 market withdrawal of its blockbuster painkiller Vioxx and as of Sept. 30 faced some 6,400 lawsuits related to the drug. -- by Joseph Mantone
Merck to lay off 7,000 in massive restructuring
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