Merck cutting 600 jobs based in Montgomery County

    Economic analysts and local officials are still trying to size up the impact of Merck & Co.’s decision to cut jobs in Montgomery County.



    The pharmaceutical giant said it will lay off 600 workers based in Montgomery County by the end of August. The true local tally is unclear.

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    “The reductions are mostly field-based sales representatives who are based out of the Upper Gwynedd office, but work out of their homes in different states,” said Merck spokeswoman Lainie Keller, by email.

    The company made an initial announcement in October 2013 and discussed its strategy.

    Merck, which remains a major employer in the Philadelphia suburbs, reported sluggish sales last year related to competition from generic drugs.

    County Commissioners Chairman Josh Shapiro says the county’s unemployment rate is slightly better than the state average.

    “Our overall economy will be able to sustain this,” Shapiro said. “It’s nevertheless concerning to me about the individuals who did lose their job. I’m bullish on life sciences, and it has been an important part of the Montgomery County economy and it continues to be.”

    Ben Franklin Technologies Partners keeps tabs on the region’s biotech industry.

    In recent years, the sector has shrunk by about 4,000 jobs, said Ben Franklin president Roseann Rosenthal. A networking group, PA Life Sciences Connect, is pointing workers to alternatives.

    “These opportunities are being advanced by the universities who have intellectual property that’s ready for prime time, by companies already in the region who are expanding and looking for talent,” Rosenthal said.

    PA Life Sciences Connect hosting an event 3 p.m. Wednesday at Montgomery County Community College.


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