In an effort to further slim its budgetary waistline, Merck, though having reported a 7% raise in sales during Q2, has announced plans to cut up to 13,000 jobs by the end of 2015, with up to 40% of reductions scheduled to occur in the US. 

These cuts are in addition to the 17,000 staff that had already been let go as a result of prior cost-cutting measures. The company disclosed that this new round of layoffs will save an additional $1.3 billion to $1.5 billion annually, on top of the expected $3.5 billion in annual savings expected by the end of 2012, which will aid financial pressures.  

As of June 30 of this year, Merck’s staff topped out at about 91,000 employees. By the close of 2015 the company will have reduced its total workforce since December 31, 2009, by 30%—which is when job cuts en masse were originally sparked—in the wake of Merck’s acquisition of Schering-Plough.    

On the details of Merck’s strategic cuts, Steven Campanini, director, corporate communications, tells MM&M: “[F]or the new phase of the merger restructuring program, the reductions are planned to come disproportionately from the elimination of non-revenue generating positions, such as administrative and headquarters organizations.”

 While Campanini would not comment directly on how many sales reps would be let go in this phase of personnel restructuring, it’s no secret that this particular branch of pharma is often quick to the chopping block during times of economic stress. 

“Downsizing in the pharmaceutical industry will inevitably include a reduction in the count of sales professionals who call on physicians,” says Jack Schember, director, marketing at SK&A, weighing in on the Merck cuts. “Those detailers who remain are expected to be more competent, focused and in-tune with physicians’ preferences, sentiments and business issues… Now physical visits are supported with digital impressions.”