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Merck relocates animal health division in N.J.

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Merck & Co. today dedicated new headquarters for its animal health division in Summit, part of a plan to centralize overseas operations in New Jersey that has earned plaudits from state officials.

Merck Animal Health will employ 300 people at a 145,000 square-foot building at the company’s Morris Avenue campus. The realignment of Merck’s animal health division, a global operation with more than 6,000 employees in 50 countries, is part of ongoing restructuring the New Jersey pharmaceutical company.

“Our new facility brings many of our teams together in collaboration to advance the science of healthier animals,” Merck Animal Health President Rick Deluca said in a statement. “This location is ideal to share knowledge with many of our colleagues.”

Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno, who attended the event, said the company’s decision to locate animal health operations — previously based in the Netherlands — in New Jersey is a boost for the state. The decision comes after years of downsizing by New Jersey pharmaceutical companies, Merck included.

“With our highly educated work force and more scientists and engineers per square mile than anywhere in the world, companies know that they can find the talent they need right here in New Jersey,” Guadagno said in a statement. “Merck’s decision last year to locate its animal health company’s headquarters to Summit is further proof that New Jersey continues to be the epicenter of the life sciences industry.”

The Summit building will include most of the animal health unit’s commercial, marketing and corporate operations. Merck Animal Health, known as MSD Animal Health outside the United States and Canada, provides drugs, vaccines and health services to veterinarians, farmers, pet owners and governments.

Merck’s move of its animal health unit precedes a planned relocation of its corporate headquarters to Summit from the Whitehouse Station section of Readington by the end of 2015. Merck announced the move last year as part of a cost-savings plan. The pharmaceutical giant has announced several restructurings and work force reductions in recent years as it integrates with Schering-Plough, which Merck acquired in 2009.

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