Merck & Co. Inc. may cut thousands of jobs and enact other changes as part of a major restructuring plan the pharmaceutical maker was expected to announce Monday, according to a published report.
The Wall Street Journal, citing a person familiar with the matter, reported Saturday that the plan includes cuts in operations within and outside the United States and a tighter focus on certain disease-research areas. Last month, Merck cut 825 jobs worldwide.
"As Merck has stated, we are carefully considering a variety of options to help improve our core business fundamentals and ultimately position Merck to meet the challenges the company faces now and in the future," Merck spokesman Christopher Loder said Sunday. "We have committed to provide details about our plans as well as milestones and metrics that can be used to evaluate our progress against them by the end of the year, and we will."
Any such reorganization would come near the start of the first federal trial over Merck's withdrawn painkiller Vioxx, which is due to start Tuesday in Houston.
Merck, the world's No. 5 drugmaker, pulled Vioxx from the market in September 2004 when its own study showed the painkiller could double risk of heart attack or stroke if taken for 18 months or longer.
Besides several thousand liability lawsuits stemming from the Vioxx recall, Merck faces the loss of patent protection in 2006 for its top-selling cholesterol drug, Zocor. The company's share price is trading at about half its value before Vioxx was removed from the market.
Merck plans its annual business briefing for investors on Dec. 15, AP reported. V.A.