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Merck to cut 500 US jobs; Pa. workers to be hit hardest

Merck & Co. Inc. plans to cut 500 sales and headquarters jobs in the U.S. by early January 2020, mainly affecting those working out of Montgomery County, Pa., according to a Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification letter filed with the state.

The letter said the cuts would be effective Jan. 3, 2020, and would affect not only those in the company's Upper Gwynedd, Pa., offices but also those working remotely outside of the state.

Pamela Eisele, a representative from Merck, told S&P Global Market Intelligence in an email that the layoffs are related to ongoing restructuring to focus on oncology research and development. The company's cancer drug Keytruda was the third best-selling drug in the world in 2018, pulling in $7.2 billion that year compared with $3.8 billion in 2017.

"This is not a new restructuring effort," Eisele said. "These changes are part of ongoing company-wide efforts to sharpen Merck's focus on innovative research and development that addresses significant unmet medical needs and on our best opportunities for growth."

Affected employees can apply to open positions elsewhere at Merck, Eisele said, and those not placed will be offered a severance package.