The 15,700-square-meter facility will be located in Corsier-sur-Vevey, Switzerland, and will cost Merck KGaA €250m ($275m) – an investment expected to “help sustainably secure capacity and high agility to deliver clinical trial material in a cost-effective way,” according to the company.
Merck also stated that the building of the site will contribute to accelerated development timelines of new biological entities and address the increasing manufacturing complexity of the next generations of biotech compounds.
A company’s spokesperson told us that the facility will manufacture drug substance for all of its pipeline’s biological entities, by utilizing single-use manufacturing systems, laboratory robotic automation, scale down upstream and downstream.
More specifically, Merck’s Biotech Development Center will incorporate two fully-integrated drug substance manufacturing lines, capable of operating at 2,000L bioreactor scale, either in continuous or batch mode, while it will also house a non-good manufacturing practice (GMP) pilot plant of the same scale.
A cross-functional team of approximately 250 of the company’s employees, which today are spread across different sites, are planned to staff the Center to support the company’s R&D pipeline in oncology and immunology.
Merck’s spokesperson also told us that the building of the facility ‘may offer additional new jobs’, with related plans to be announced as the company approaches the opening of the Center, which is scheduled by the end of 2022.
Stefan Oschmann, Merck’s CEO, said in a statement that the investment in the Center “confirms the importance of Switzerland as our prime hub for the manufacturing of biotech medicines,” with the company’s overall investments in the country over the past ten years approaching €1bn.