Merck building second biologics plant at Irish site, adding 170 jobs

The construction of a vaccine and biologics production at a site in County Carlow is the latest commitment to Ireland, says Merck & Co.

Merck & Co. – known as MSD outside of North America – will construct a second plant at its site in Carlow, Ireland, about 80km south-west of Dublin. The project will create 170 new jobs.

“The facility will focus on the production of vaccines and biologics and there will also be an expansion of warehouse and laboratory services at the site,” spokesperson Barbara Coyle told BioProcess Insider. “Recruitment for the new facility will commence immediately and it is intended that the new manufacturing operations will commence in 2023.”

Merck & Co. (MSD)’s site in Carlow, Ireland. Image: GoogleStreetview

Specific financial details have not been disclosed, but it comes on the back of a number of investments in the firm’s Irish manufacturing network. In 2017, the firm announced investment of €280 million ($320 million) which included an expansion at its Brinny, County Cork site as well as the first stand-alone vaccine and biologics facility outside the US at the Carlow site.

And in February this year, the firm announced plans to build a plant at its former women’s healthcare product business in Swords, Dublin to manufacture its top selling cancer drug Keytruda (pembrolizumab), creating 350 jobs.

“The decision to further invest in Carlow is a real testament to the talent of the current Carlow team and MSD Ireland’s wider employee base and reinforces MSD’s commitment to Ireland, further strengthening our 50-year strong legacy here,” Coyle said.

“The construction of this additional facility only adds to our ability to be able to offer current and future employees a truly unique experience across our sites in Ireland, offering an opportunity to experience all elements of pharmaceutical and biotech manufacturing within Ireland.”

Ireland’s in the (up)stream

The new facility was described as “a tremendous asset to our pharma industry and will deepen the great partnership that already exists between Ireland and the company,” by Heather Humphreys, Ireland’s Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation.

And according to Coyle, MSD’s continued investment in Ireland is due to “continued access to highly-skilled employees as well as collaborative partnerships with the government and third level institutions.”

For decades, Ireland has been a major pharma manufacturing hub, spurred by low corporate tax rates, and a highly skilled workforce. Its language, proximity to Europe and its membership of the common market have also boosted multinational investment.

The biopharma sector has been further encouraged by government support, including the funding and establishment of the National Institute for Bioprocessing Research and Training (NIBRT). What has been described as a ‘flight simulator for biomanufacturing,’ has trained over 4,000 people a year in bioproduction processes since it opened in 2011 from its site in Dublin.

Other than Merck, the country has seen multi-million investments from firms in the bioproduction space including Eli Lilly, PfizerTakeda, and WuXi Biologics.

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