Merck KGaA matches lofty R&D goals with €250M investment into a new clinical manufacturing site in Switzerland
As Merck KGaA strives to prove itself as a capable biopharma R&D player, it has begun construction on a €250 million facility dedicated to developing and manufacturing drugs for use in clinical trials.
The German drugmaker chose a location at Corsier-sur-Vevey, Switzerland, where it already has a commercial manufacturing site, in order to “bridge together research and manufacturing.”
“This investment in the Merck Biotech Development Center reflects our commitment to speed up the availability of new medicines for patients in need, and confirms the importance of Switzerland as our prime hub for the manufacturing of biotech medicines,” CEO Stefan Oschmann said at the groundbreaking ceremony, according to a statement.
Their goal is to have the 15,700 square meters (nearly 169,000 square feet) site fully operational by 2022. Around 250 currently spread across different sites will be brought to the new facility.
At his JP Morgan presentation earlier this month Oschmann stressed that 2019 to 2022 is time to “fully leverage pipeline potential.” Four drug programs will be crucial in that effort: the bruised PD-L1 Bavencio, which he said can still grow in urothelial cancer and non-small cell lung cancer; the c-Met inhibitor tepotinib; a bifunctional fusion protein jointly developed with GSK called bintrafusp alfa; and the BTK inhibitor evobrutinib.
That’s on top of the multiple sclerosis therapy Mavenclad, for which Merck KGaA is predicting blockbuster sales, in addition to a suite of early-stage drugs targeting the DNA damage response pathway.
To support all that, just under a year ago Merck blueprinted expansion plans for its R&D facility in Massachusetts, investing another $70 million into a collaboration campus that cost $115 million to build in 2016.
The company groups its prescription drug pipeline under healthcare, one of three pillars buttressing its business alongside life sciences (contract research services) and performance materials.
Technology developed by the other two units — including process solutions for clinical manufacturing, pilot plant operations and dynamic liquid crystal windows — will be introduced to the new building, too.