Merck KGaA adds big job cuts, $316M R&D makeover to restructuring plan

Merck KGaA today outlined more deep cuts in its drive to reduce overhead, detailing plans to eliminate about one out of every 10 staffers--about 1,100 jobs--in Germany. But while staffers at the home office and in production posts are being axed, the pharma giant also announced a €250 million ($316 million) plan that includes a hefty investment in R&D at the company's headquarters in Darmstadt. 

"The Darmstadt site, as the global headquarters of the Merck Group, will be expanded further and, as a state-of-the-art production and research center, will be able to meet the highest competitive demands," the company asserted. "A modern and up-to-date working environment, flexible organizational structures, and suitable workspaces in research and development should be able to drive innovation, retain talents and attract skilled professionals. Darmstadt is to be expanded to become an R&D center of excellence, with a tightly networked research and knowledge platform for both pharmaceuticals and chemicals."

Merck KGaA has set in motion a head-to-toe reorganization that includes padlocking its big Serono facility in Geneva, Switzerland. The plan to outsource certain regulatory affairs and production posts will continue, but no other outsourcing will be used to replace the departing staffers. And Merck Serono added today that a second spinoff--Quartz Bio--is being created from the wreckage in Switzerland.

Jérôme Wojcik will take the helm at the startup, which will hire four scientists to help in its biomarker efforts. The company will be based in a start-up accelerator in Geneva and will start out with Merck Serono as its first customer, with €2 million in work orders planned for the next two or three years. Wojcik believes he can recruit more customers as Big Pharma restructures.

"An increasing number of pharmaceutical companies are integrating a stratified medicine approach in their drug development process in order to predict how patients will respond to a specific therapy," said Wojcik. "Biomarker analyses are at the heart of stratified medicine and we believe that Quartz Bio's flexible and highly specialized services will bring added value to pharmaceutical companies for the development of new drugs."

- read the release on Merck KGaA's latest cuts
- here's the release from Quartz Bio
- get the AFP report

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