PILL PLETHORA Investing heavily in its Swiss manufacturing plant will allow Merck to increase its medicinal output
In March this year, multinational pharmaceuticals, chemicals and life sciences company Merck Group announced its plans to invest €150-million over the next four years, at its manufacturing site at Aubonne, in Switzerland, to expand manufacturing capacity for its biotech medicines.
The facility upgrade is being designed to help meet the growing demand for treatments through increasing Merck’s production capacity. The expansion also supports the growth of the current and future portfolio of Merck’s biotech medicines for patients in 150 countries globally.
The investment will help meet increasing patient needs for flagship medicines such as fertility treatment Gonal-f, newly launched therapies such as cancer drug Bavencio and potential future products currently in clinical development such as cancer investigational treatment M7824.
“This investment reflects our commitment to ensuring that our medicines always meet the highest quality standards and are readily available to patients all over the world whenever they need them,” says Merck healthcare CEO Belén Garijo.
She adds that the investment is an expression of Merck’s confidence in the future growth of its healthcare business sector.
“With this latest investment, Merck is taking one step further towards a strong positioning of the Canton de Vaud as a health valley, which already includes 360 companies, 400 laboratories and 20 000 jobs,” says Vaud State Councilor Philippe Leuba. He adds that Merck’s presence in the Vaud canton is highly valued and this further investment will have a lasting and positive impact on the region.
The new building will be equipped with cutting-edge technologies dedicated to aseptic filling and quality control, with an innovative design and a flexible operations model to deliver increased productivity. The new lines for the aseptic filling of biotech medicines will be equipped with isolator technology, representing best practice in aseptic filling to ensure the safety of injectable medicines.
One line will be dedicated to freeze-dried formulations, the other to liquid formulations. These two new lines, as well as the new quality control labs, will replace existing infrastructure with technological upgrades and higher capacity allowing production of up to 27-million vials a year.
The construction of the new building is expected to be completed in 2020 with the new quality control labs operational in 2021 and the new lines for aseptic filling in 2023, following validation by regulatory authorities. Everything will be designed to comply with the highest international standards of quality, environment, health and safety.
With the sites of Aubonne and nearby Vevey, Switzerland is Merck’s prime hub for manufacturing biotech medicines. With this latest expansion, Merck will have invested more than €800-million in Switzerland over the past ten years, reflecting the strategic importance of the country. Merck employs 2 300 employees across 11 locations in the region.