By Estel Grace Masangkay
Merck’s biopharmaceutical division Merck Serono held the groundbreaking ceremony in Nantong, China for its new pharmaceutical manufacturing site. The new facility will be the company’s second-largest pharmaceutical manufacturing building worldwide.
The facility will be housed in the Nantong Economical Technological Development Area (NETDA) in the Greater Shanghai region (Yangtze River Delta area). Merck reported that the site represents an investment of EUR 80 million and is slated to be the company’s largest manufacturing plant outside the EU. Based in NETDA’s high-tech BioSpark zone, an industrial park for life science ventures, the facility will initially cover 40,000 square meters and may possibly extend to an additional 20,000 square meters.
The company said the facility will be dedicated to the bulk manufacture and packaging of Glucophage for diabetes, Concor for cardiovascular diseases, and Euthyrox for thyroid disorders — an area the company has been focused on recently, considering this May, Merck Serono took part in the 6th International Thyroid Awareness Week to show its support in raising awareness of thyroid disease.
Construction of the plant is set to be finished by 2016 and to open for commercial production in 2017. Merck said the site will comply with international standards, not only in quality, but also in other areas. “We firmly believe that complying with the highest quality, environment, health and safety standards is a natural commitment to the communities where we operate, as well as a prerequisite to ensuring the availability of high-quality medicines for patients,” said E. Allan Gabor, President and CEO of Merck Serono China.
Merck Serono has previously made investments in China. The company built a research center dedicated to biomarker research in Beijing and two facilities in Shanghai, namely the Merck Millipore Biopharmaceutical Technical and Training Centre and the Liquid Crystals manufacturing facility. Aside from investing in structures, Merck Serono has also collaborated with pharmaceutical companies, as well as academic and medical institutions in China.
Belén Garijo, President and CEO of Merck Serono, said, “We have steadfastly aligned our focus and strategy with the Chinese government’s efforts to increase patient access to quality care throughout the country… We are also creating alliances and partnerships with local partners in every part of our operations.”