updated 7/31/2007 9:06:55 AM ET 2007-07-31T13:06:55

Johnson & Johnson said Tuesday it would reduce its global work force by up to 4 percent in a restructuring to cut costs as a number of its patents expire over the next few years.

The health care company, which says it employs about 121,000 people worldwide, predicted the restructuring would entail pretax charges totaling $550 million to $750 million in the second half of 2007.

Excluding the charges, Johnson & Johnson still expects to meet its 2007 profit targets.

Johnson & Johnson said the restructuring targets primarily its pharmaceuticals segments, which faces significant patent expirations over the next few years, and its Cordis stent-making unit.

Under the restructuring, Johnson & Johnson will consolidate certain operations at the pharmaceuticals segment and better integrate its Cordis business.

The company said the moves are expected to generate pretax, annual cost savings of $1.3 billion to $1.6 billion next year.

Johnson & Johnson said it will continue to invest in promising technologies and product opportunities in the fastest growing segments of the health care industry. The company still sees a full-year profit of $4.02 to $4.07 per share, versus the average analyst estimate of $4.06 per share, based on a survey by Thomson Financial.

Earlier this month, Johnson & Johnson, which employs about 121,000 people worldwide, said its second-quarter profit rose 9 percent, but U.S. sales of its Cypher drug-coated stents declined 41 percent. A drug-coated stent is a tiny mesh scaffold that props heart arteries and slowly releases a drug to keep them from clogging.

Sales of key anemia drug Procrit, formerly the company’s best-selling drug, slid 6 percent to $758 million during the quarter.

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