Merck Sharp and Dohme, which operates facilities in Ballydine, Carrick-on-Suir as well as Carlow, has merged with its long-term partner Schering-Plough, with the combined company to be called Merck.

In a letter to employees on March 9th, Merck President Richard T Clark stated: “This is one of the most significant and exciting milestones for both of our companies…

“We have announced what I believe is an ideal combination that gives us key advantages across our business and puts us in a better position to fund innovation and drive growth for the future.”

Mr Clark said that the merger will “create a stronger, more financially sound organisation that can deliver consistent, sustainable growth. We expect this broader portfolio of products will fuel the growth of the combined company beyond the expirations of Merck’s current patents”.

The benefits of hospital patients would be many, he claimed.

“Together, Merck and Schering-Plough will have a portfolio of products including cardiovascular, respiratory, oncology, neuroscience, infectious disease, immunology and women’s health.

“The progress Merck and Schering-Plough have made in implementing new customer-centric selling models will increase the ability of the combined company’s sales force to help physicians and healthcare systems improve patient outcomes.”

And what about shareholders? “We will begin reaping financial benefits in year one, while maintaining our dividend and freeing up cash to pursue the right licensing and research opportunities for future growth,” Mr Clark continued.

“In fact, we expect to achieve cost savings of approximately $3.5 billion beyond 2011 – savings we can use to augment our already notable financial strength and to invest in strategic opportunities.”

Mr Clark’s letter concluded: “We are confident that, together, Merck and Schering-Plough will make a meaningful difference in the future of global healthcare.”