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Merck’s local operations excluded from global job cuts

Merck has three manufacturing plants in Puerto Rico, where it employs 1,500 people. (Credit: © Mauricio Pascual)

Merck & Co.’s reported plans to cut back its workforce by about 13,000 by 2015 will not affect its local operations, Frank Gutiérrez, general manager of Merck Puerto Rico and the Caribbean, said Friday.

In an interview with News is my Business, the executive said the pharmaceutical company already completed the adjustments it needed to make in Puerto Rico, post-merger with Schering-Plough.

“At this time we’re not seeing any impact, as when the merger with Schering took place, we implemented a personnel reduction of 30 percent,” Gutiérrez said. “We were the first to make the necessary adjustments, during the first half of 2010.”

Merck currently has three local plants, in Arecibo, Barceloneta and Las Piedras, with a combined workforce of 1,500 people.

“As a matter of fact, we’re currently recruiting specialized personnel in certain areas, such as vaccines and marketing, which we’re looking to reinforce,” said Gutiérrez. “We’re actually adding, not subtracting, so our situation is stable.”

On Friday, Merck announced plans for a new round of restructuring, which would represent eliminating as many as 13,000 positions companywide. The drugmaker is bracing for competition from generic products that will go against its top-selling Singulair drug, and the ensuing slower revenue growth expected in the U.S. and Europe.

Singulair produced about $5 billion in sales last year — nearly 11 percent of the pharmaceutical company’s total revenue.

Citing Merck officials, the Associated Press reported that most of the job cuts will come from headquarters and other administrative functions. The downsizing process is expected to start next year and be completed by 2015.

Author Details
Author Details
Business reporter with 29 years of experience writing for weekly and daily newspapers, as well as trade publications in Puerto Rico. My list of former employers includes Caribbean Business, The San Juan Star, and the Puerto Rico Daily Sun, among others. My areas of expertise include telecommunications, technology, retail, agriculture, tourism, banking and most other segments of Puerto Rico’s economy.

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