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VOL. 125 | NO. 132 | Friday, July 09, 2010

Memphis Merck Site Spared From Closure

By Tom Wilemon

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Merck & Co Inc. announced Thursday that it will close eight manufacturing sites, but Memphis is not on the list.

The pharmaceutical giant is closing the manufacturing plants as well as eight research sites to streamline operations following its merger with Schering-Plough last November. With the merger, Merck acquired the Memphis-based consumer health products division of Schering-Plough Corp.

“Today’s announcement is specific about the sites that are listed here,” Ron Rogers, a spokesman for Merck told The Daily News. “I can tell you there are no sites in Tennessee on today’s announcement.”

The division based in Memphis is not involved with prescription drugs. It does have several global brands, including Claritin, Coppertone and Dr. Scholl’s, which are manufactured and distributed from here.

Rogers said he could not provide any information about future plans for the Memphis operation.

Last September, the company said it “plans to place an increased emphasis on growing the consumer business, particularly in markets outside the United States.” In the company statement released Thursday, Merck said the changes “position the company to invest in key areas for future growth, including emerging markets, biologics, vaccines and consumer care.”

Duplication was not a concern for Memphis when Merck and Schering-Plough announced their intentions to merge. Before the merger, Merck did not sell the same types of consumer products offered by Schering-Plough.

Merck said Thursday it expects its total worldwide work force to be reduced by 15 percent as result of the merger.

With the new announcement and previously disclosed plans, Merck is reducing the total number of manufacturing facilities from 91 to 77.

The manufacturing plants slated for closure are in Comazzo, Italy; Cacern, Portugal; Azcapotzalco, Mexico; Coyoacan, Mexico; and Santo Amaro, Brazil.

Merck said it would sell manufacturing operations in Mirador, Argentina, and Miami Lakes, Fla.

Merck over the next two years said it would phase out research operations in Cambridge, Mass., and six other locations outside the United States.

“These changes are crucial to drive future growth and realize the promise of being a global health care leader for the long term,” Richard T. Clark, the chief executive officer of Merck, said in a prepared statement.

The company said it expects to save $3.5 billion in 2012. The savings will also come from nonstructruing-related activities, such as ongoing procurement savings initiatives.

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