The Associated Press reports drugmaker Merck & Co. said it is shutting down eight manufacturing plants and eight research sites around the world, including two U.S. locations. The moves are part of ongoing consolidation following Merck''s acquisition of Schering-Plough Corp. last year. That deal made Merck the world''s second-biggest drugmaker but the company said it would eliminate about 15 percent of the combined work force, or roughly 16,000 jobs. Those cuts are intended to save the Whitehouse Station, N.J., company about $3.5 billion a year, starting in 2012. Merck said that the restructuring plans announced so far will bring savings of about $2.7 billion to $3.1 billion in 2012, most of its target. Merck said the consolidation is part of its strategy to diversify, focus on patient needs and invest in biologic drugs, emerging markets and other key areas for future growth.