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As Merck (MRK) product sales shift, the drug maker is cutting 1,800 U.S. sales reps, mostly people who call on primary doctors who prescribe cardiovascular, respiratory, and diabetes medicines.

A Merck spokeswoman confirmed the move, which was disclosed to Merck employees on Thursday and is expected to be completed by early January 2018. But she declined to say how much money the drug maker expects to save. She also declined to say how many sales reps are employed in the U.S. overall. Globally, Merck currently employs about 69,000 people, including 26,500 in the U.S.

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  • To my Merck friends, sorry for your situation. Perhaps your CEO could spend less time in self aggrandizement with White House photo ops and “principled” behavior, and more time keeping his eye on the ball and keep a once proud company from being run into the ground. Time to get rid of the Frazier lawyer types and bring back the Vagelos types, who know BOTH science and business.

  • As an “insider” I predict it will get worse in 2018. The reason is simple. Big pharma has painted itself into the corner with profit margins dependent on a handful of specialty drugs. In many cases the payers will be exacting much higher rebates next year, with net sales on some blockbusters tumbling, meaning lower margins, more layoffs etc. The industry has morphed into a perfect circular firing squad.

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