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Merck to slash jobs in cost-savings drive

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Merck & Co (MRK-N) said it aimed to slash more jobs by late 2015 to wring more than an additional $1 billion US in annual cost savings from an ongoing restructuring program.

The No. 2 U.S. drugmaker said it aimed to reduce its workforce, compared with the end of 2009, by an additional 12 to 13 percent. The move would yield annual cost savings of $4 billion to $4.6 billion by the end of 2015, compared with an earlier estimate of $2.7 billion to $3.1 billion, Merck said in a release.

Merck, which is streamlining its operations following its purchase of Schering Plough Corp. in 2009, reported a second-quarter profit in line with Wall Street expectations on Friday, but sales outpaced forecasts.

The company said it earned $2.02 billion, or 65 cents per share, compared with $752 million, or 24 cents per share, a year earlier, when it took a big restructuring charge for the Schering Plough acquisition.

Excluding special items, Merck earned 95 cents per share, matching the average forecast among analysts polled by Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

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