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Week's staffing news reflects ups and downs
by Jeffrey Bouley  |  Email the author


There's mixed pharma employment news this week, though it probably edges strongly toward negative since the layoffs are likely to outpace the hirings.
Yesterday saw news emerge that Merck & Co. informed its employees via memo that it can't reach its goal of cutting up to 13,000 jobs by 2015—a move spurred in large part by generic competition pressures—simply by eliminating vacant jobs. As such, the company has decided to accelerate the pace of layoffs in the United States. Reportedly, by the end of October Merck will notify employees who are losing their jobs, with the major areas affected being marketing and customer solutions; managed markets and policy; strategy and commercial model innovation; and the neuropsychiatric and women's healthcare specialty sales teams.
In similar news, though far less dramatic given the company's size, Piscataway, N.J.-based Enzon Pharmaceuticals Inc. today announced that it will reduce its workforce and operating costs to "more closely align its resources with the company's research and development activities."  This will means a headcount reduction of approximately 48 percent, to a total of 47 employees, effective June 2012. Enzon expects this move to result in approximately $6 million in reduced annualized operating expenses once the plan is fully implemented by the second quarter of 2012. The company also expects to incur a charge in the third quarter of 2011 of approximately $3 million related to the reduction.
In more positive news, Philadelphia's Wistar Institute today broke ground on a $100 million expansion that will  support 380 construction jobs and is expected to create 100 new research and administrative jobs at Wistar in the future. The effort is part of a plan by Wistar to "ensure its future at the forefront of cancer research and vaccine development" Under the current plans, Wistar will erect a new, seven-story, 89,700-square-foot research tower, which will rise above its current facility at 36th and Spruce streets in University City. The project will reportedly enable Wistar to expand its research operations, recruit new scientific faculty and pursue collaborative biomedical research in emerging areas of science.
"At a time when biomedical research is advancing at a lightning pace, The Wistar Institute finds itself constrained by aging facilities designed for 19th and 20th century science," said Dr. Russel E. Kaufman, Wistar's president and CEO. "We designed our new building specifically to foster interactions between researchers in the kinds of multidisciplinary collaborations that spark innovation and drive results."
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