It’s déjà vu all over again. Little more than a month after Pfizer (New York) announced that it would acquire Wyeth (Madison, NJ), Merck (Whitehouse Station, NJ) and Schering-Plough (Kenilworth, NJ) have unveiled their own merger agreement. The combined company will be called Merck and be based in Whitehouse Station, New Jersey. Schering-Plough CEO Fred Hassan will help during the merger, but Merck’s CEO Richard Clark will lead the combined company.
The reasons for the Merck–Schering Plough deal mirror those for the Pfizer–Wyeth combination. Merck will benefit from Schering-Plough’s biopharmaceutical portfolio, which was obtained through the purchase of Organon BioSciences. The combined company will have a broad pipeline, too, including 18 products in late-stage development, according to Clark. Merck will also gain access to many products that will not face generic competition for several years, Clark noted. And the combined company will have a larger global presence and increased manufacturing capabilities.
Besides boosting research, manufacturing, and product portfolios, the companies hope the merger will save them $3.5 billion per year after 2011. Unfortunately for New Jerseyans, the savings will partly result from headcount reductions. Merck and Schering-Plough have already been eliminating jobs, and Merck spokesperson Amy Rose foresees a further 15% reduction after the merger is complete.
When Hassan passes the ball to Clark, only time will tell whether he fumbles or scores a touchdown.