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Merck to slash about 8,500, cut expenses by about $2.5 billion

A tablets is processed at the Merck KGaA pharmaceutical plant in Darmstadt, Germany.
Hannelore Foerster | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Pharmaceutical giant Merck announced plans on Tuesday to slash an additional 8,500 jobs on top of previously announced job cuts, adding that it planned to cut operating expenses by $2.5 billion by the end of 2015.

With prior job cuts, Merck's workforce will be reduced by about 20 percent.

The company said it expects to take between $2 billion and $3 billion in pre-tax charges to pay for the restructuring program, and should realize savings of $1 billion by the end of 2014.

Merck reiterated that it sees full-year earnings excluding items in the range of $3.45 to $3.55 a share.