Issue Date: May 12, 2008
Merck Cuts Jobs, Halts Natural Products Research
Merck & Co. said last week that it will eliminate 1,200 sales jobs in the U.S. by the end of July. The company also confirmed a plan to halt in-house natural products research. The job cuts follow FDA's rejection of an allergy drug combining its Singulair with Schering-Plough's Claritin and, more recently, the rejection of its cholesterol drug Cordaptive. The decision to close down natural products research will impact approximately 50 researchers in Spain and "a significantly smaller number" in Rahway, N.J., according to Merck spokesman Ian R. McConnell. "There has been no decision made on what is happening to those folks," McConnell tells C&EN. "At the end of the day, synthetic chemistry has taken over. The investment involved in finding these chemicals in the environment is significant. The products that came out of our effort have been significant as well, but that was over a 50-year period." Merck's most recent natural products drug is the antifungal Cancidas, introduced in 2002.
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