As pharmaceutical manufacturing grows increasingly complex, Merck KGaA wants to ramp up its development capabilities for clinical trial compounds.
The German life sciences company got one step closer this week with the topping out of its new Biotech Development Center in Corsier-sur-Vevey, Switzerland. The €250 million ($296 million) undertaking is slated to be fully operational in 2023.
The center is located near Merck’s current manufacturing site in the Swiss city and will bring together about 250 employees from various sites. The center will have a heavy emphasis on development and optimization of manufacturing processes, said Jonathan Souquet, Merck’s global head of biotech process sciences and the center’s operations director, in an email to Fierce Biotech.
Merck’s goal for the new facility will be to quickly scale up compounds for clinical trials while also meeting the quantity and quality standards of Merck, Souquet said. This is critical to the overall drug development process because producing increasingly sophisticated compounds in large quantities for the clinic is a “highly complex” process that the center aims to make more efficient.
Souquet said the center will also serve medicines already on the market through manufacturing process enhancements with new technologies, like continuous manufacturing. Open workspaces for collaboration and innovation will also be a part of the center.
Merck’s R&D focus areas will align with activity at the new center, including oncology, immuno-oncology and immunology.
“Compared with today’s situation, the Merck Biotech Development Center will offer a significant technological upgrade combined with the human power of co-locating our world-class experts in biotech sciences and engineering in one site, in order to effectively address our most pressing scientific challenges in the area of biotech process, formulation and analytical development,” Souquet said.
Merck wants to attract more experts to the center, which is one of the central reasons Switzerland was chosen as the site. Merck already has significant development activities in the Central European country, including eight established locations. The company thinks the Lake Leman region will also provide a highly skilled workforce, Souquet said. Not to mention, a favorable tax environment.
The newly added resources in Switzerland follow enhancements to Merck’s China R&D operations in 2019 and a $70 million commitment to expanding its Massachusetts facility.