Pharma industry blogger reports layoffs in Merck R&D

With Merck & Co. Inc. buying Schering-Plough Corp., everyone expects there will be job cuts once the deal is done.

But layoffs going on right now?

The prominent pharmaceutical blog In the Pipeline has posting today about layoffs at Merck R&D operations in West Point (Montgomery County) and in Montreal.

You can read the post here.

Some commenters to the posting say that these are cuts that have been the works before the Schering-Plough deal was announced. That could mean any layoffs now are part of Merck CEO Richard Clark's "Plan to Win" restructuring, which is into its fourth year.

UPDATE: Ian McConnell from Merck's media relations office e-mailed me Friday afternoon with the following statement:

The restructuring is based on a careful analysis of the strengths and weaknesses of our basic research organization aimed at better alignment of our staff and resources. These changes are the latest step in our, previously announced, strategy focused on improving the productivity of research and development efforts.

In October, Merck did announced that it planned to cut 7,200 jobs worldwide. Those cuts were be completed by 2011 and represented about 12 percent of the Whitehouse Station, N.J. company's worldwide workforce.