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Cuts at Merck

Merck is to cut some 8,500 positions and shake up its research and development division, Bloomberg News reports. These, it adds, are in addition to the 7,500 cuts the company already announced, together totaling about 20 percent of the company's workforce. The cuts are to be spread among all areas of the company, including R&D, sales, and management.

According to Merck, the move is to save the company about $1 billion next year and $2.5 billion by 2015.

"We will sharpen our focus on core therapeutic areas," CEO Ken Frazier said during a conference call, according to Bloomberg. "In other therapeutic areas, we will significantly reduce our resources."

For example in a press release, the company says that it will focus its R&D efforts on "on candidates capable of providing unambiguous, promotable advantages to patients and payers." Those efforts are to include some of its programs in immunotherapy for oncology, a BACE drug Alzheimer's disease, and work on a nine-valent HPV vaccine.