Week's staffing news reflects ups and downs

Jeffrey Bouley
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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 goalof 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 willnotify employees who are losing their jobs, with the major areas affected being marketing and customer solutions;managed markets and policy; strategy and commercial modelinnovation; and the neuropsychiatric and women's healthcare specialtysales 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 anddevelopment activities."  This will means a headcount reduction ofapproximately 48 percent, to a total of 47 employees, effective June 2012. Enzonexpects this move to result in approximately $6 millionin reduced annualized operating expenses once the plan is fullyimplemented by the second quarter of 2012. The company also expects toincur a charge in the third quarter of 2011 of approximately $3million 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 tocreate 100 new research and administrative jobs at Wistar in thefuture. The effort is part of a plan by Wistar to "ensure its future at the forefront of cancer research and vaccinedevelopment" Under the current plans, Wistar will erect a new, seven-story,89,700-square-foot research tower, which will rise above its currentfacility at 36th and Spruce streets in University City. Theproject will reportedly enable Wistar to expand its research operations, recruitnew scientific faculty and pursue collaborative biomedical research inemerging areas of science.
 
"At a time when biomedical research is advancing at a lightning pace,The Wistar Institute finds itself constrained by aging facilitiesdesigned for 19th and 20th century science," said Dr. Russel E. Kaufman, Wistar's president andCEO. "We designed our new building specificallyto foster interactions between researchers in the kinds ofmultidisciplinary collaborations that spark innovation and driveresults."

Jeffrey Bouley

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