Merck announces plans to trim workforce

WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J. — Merck disclosed plans to reduce its workforce by 12% to 13% by the end of 2015, the company announced Friday in its second-quarter earnings release.

The drug maker said the decision is part of its merger restructuring program — which is expected to yield annual ongoing savings of $4 billion to $4.6 billion by the end of 2015, up from the original estimate of $2.7 billion to $3.1 billion — but noted that despite the planned reduction, it will continue to hire new employees in strategic growth areas of the business, such as emerging markets.

"Merck is taking these difficult actions so that we can grow profitably and continue to deliver on our mission well into the future," Merck president and CEO Kenneth Frazier said. "The environment we operate in is changing rapidly and dramatically, and these steps will help us more efficiently serve customers and patients around the world."

Second-quarter worldwide sales for Merck increased to about $12.2 billion, or 65 cents per share, compared with $11.3 billion, or 24 cents per share, in the year-ago period.