Up to 360 employees of Merck’s 7,400 New Jersey employees could either lose their jobs or see their positions relocated as the company shifts efforts toward exploratory biology.
The cuts will come from the company’s pre-clinical, discovery, and early development group. Citing a need to break into emerging research arenas, the change in strategy will result in staffing level changes in Kenilworth and Rahway, New Jersey as well as North Wales, Pennsylvania.
Positions not completely cut will likely be relocated to Boston or San Francisco; both making their mark as biomedical research hotspots in the United States.
The move marks the latest in a series of strange events related to the company and its New Jersey locations. Once headquartered in Readington Township, New Jersey, Merck planned to move 30 miles northeast to Summit.
Just one year later, however, Summit was closed down and the pre-existing campus located in Kenilworth was designated as the new global headquarters location. Residing at Kenilworth ever since, the location now faces cuts as the company explores new emerging business opportunities.
Merck’s cost cutting efforts have been costing employees’ jobs for years. The company cut some 8,500 jobs in 2013 after cutting 7,500 employees in 2011and 2012. Citing competition from generic manufacturers, regulatory delays, and testing failures, the company needed to reduce operating expenses by billions of dollars as a result.
Adding to Merck’s troubles are questions over the efficacy of its shingles vaccine – Zostavax. The vaccine is reportedly only effective about 51% of the time and has been linked to a number of adverse events; including death.
Whether or not the coming year can provide some stability for Merck and its remaining employees has yet to be seen.