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Two Boston biotechs cutting more than 200 jobs

Merck and AstraZeneca, two international drug giants with operations in Boston, are laying off more than 200 employees from their local laboratories.

Merck told employees this week that it would lay off 120 workers from the drug discovery division of Cubist, the Lexington company it acquired in December. AstraZeneca will close its Infection iMed unit in Waltham, cutting 95 jobs effective at the end of April.

AstraZeneca didn’t immediately reply to a request for comment, but plans to hire 20 to 30 workers to staff a new standalone company that will take over the drug development work of its former division, according to a company announcement. The new company will also be based at the company’s Waltham research park, and will inherit the work of the iMed unit.


“The new structure will provide greater flexibility for the future development of the early-stage small molecule anti-infectives pipeline,” the company said.

The cuts at Merck’s Cubist property amount to 20 percent of its local workforce. A spokeswoman for Merck said the decision to lay the employees off “is the result of the need to ensure efficient use of resources and overlapping capabilities.”

“Cubist discovery projects that have been selected for advancement will be transferred to other sites in the Merck research network, and development of later stage candidates will continue as planned,” Keller said.

The layoffs at Merck were first reported by the Boston Business Journal. Both drug companies have other facilities in the Boston area.

Jack Newsham can be reached at jack.newsham@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @TheNewsHam.