Merck to cease production at one of its plants in Puerto Rico

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Merck will cease active ingredient production at one of its plants in Puerto Rico in a blow to a city once considered a pharmaceutical hub.

The company said Friday that production in Barceloneta will end by late 2014 as part of a global restructuring. Merck said formulation and packaging operations at that plant will continue under a third-party contract.

The company also will consolidate formulation operations at its plant in Arecibo with another plant in the eastern city of Las Piedras, where it has invested more than $100 million in recent years to launch three new products.

Cesar Simich is Merck's managing director for Puerto Rico and the Caribbean. He said he doesn't yet know how many people would lose their jobs as a result of the restructuring.