Merck, one of the country's biggest pharmaceutical makers, announced Wednesday it is slashing more than 7,000 positions, or 12 percent of its global work force. Those cuts come on top of more than 10,000 jobs that were eliminated in an earlier restructuring. The new cuts were announced as the company reported a sharp drop in income for the recent quarter, due partly to lower sales of the cholesterol drugs Vytorin and Zetia.
Merck also faces competition from generic drugmakers as patents on top-selling medications expire. Rival drug company Pfizer faces the same problem. The maker of top-selling cholesterol drug Lipitor already has cut more than 14,000 jobs since last year, and workers there are bracing for more.