Merck’s restructuring, litigation countering MPS improvements

The Merck team in Arecibo, Puerto Rico, that piloted Merck's new Lean Manufacturing strategy (The "Merck Production System," or MPS) is a finalist for 2006 Pharmaceutical Manufacturing Team of the Year. Winners will be announced next week. The Arecibo team has enabled a great deal of change, cultural and otherwise, to take place in a relatively short time, and Merck is now rolling out the MPS model to its other manufacturing facilities. It will be interesting to see what impact Lean Manufacturing ultimately has on the company's financial performance. It is way too soon to see any results now.  Recently, InPharmaTechnologist wrote that MPS improvements are being outweighed by the financial impacts of the company's restructuring effort. The article suggests that Merck will likely outsource more manufacturing and other projects. But Vioxx litigation is also clearly taking its toll, too. Each lawsuit is costing Merck around $70 million, according to a Fortune article cited by CNNMoney. For any college student interested in challenge (read "baptism by fire"?)  and a taste of the "real world" of business today, just learned that Merck is currently recruiting college student interns.   -AMS