Merck & Co is moving its global headquarters from Whitehouse Station to another part of New Jersey as part of its cost-cutting programme.

About 2,000 staff currently situated at Whitehouse Station, home to Merck since 1992, will move to its site in Summit, New Jersey or to other facilities in the state, at Branchburg and Cokesbury. Summit was selected as the new HQ because it is "a strategic, multi-use site with excess work-space capacity and is adjacent to major transportation hubs and desirable urban centres", the drugs giant noted.

The move comes as the company continues its restructuring programme which was expanded last August when Merck announced plans to cut 12-13,000 jobs by the end of 2015, some 12%-13% of its workforce. Chief executive Kenneth Frazier said the relocation "will help us achieve our future vision, reduce the size of our operating footprint and increase agility as we adapt to our changing business environment".

The transition process will start in 2014 and be completed in mid-2015.

Needle-free vaccine deal with Vaxxas

Meantime, Merck has linked up with Australia's Vaxxas to evaluate the latter's Nanopatch platform that delivers vaccines to the immunological cells immediately below the surface of the skin.

Financial details have not been disclosed but Merck will pay an upfront fee and provide funding to conduct research evaluating Nanopatch for one of the company's vaccine candidates. The Brisbane-based group, which has also just started business operations in Cambridge, USA, will be eligible to receive additional payments if Merck exercises its option to use the platform for vaccines in up to two additional fields.

In addition, Vaxxas has granted Merck an exclusive license for the Nanopatch platform for commercial production of an undisclosed vaccine. The technology consists of an array of thousands of vaccine-coated microprojections that perforate the skin, and Vaxxas hopes its needle-free approach will transform the way vaccines are delivered.