Merck pays Just-Evotec $15m for ‘J.POD’ manufacturing capacity

Merck & Co. has reserved capacity at Just-Evotec’s modular and biomanufacturing facility in Redmond, Washington, which is currently under construction.

Months after German services firm Evotec acquired biologics development and manufacturing firm Just.Bio for $90 million (€81 million), plans were drawn up to construct a commercial-scale facility near Seattle in Washington state.

While the plant is in the early stages of construction, Just-Evotec has confirmed Merck & Co. (known as MSD outside of North America) has reserved capacity at the site for the production of biologics including recombinant proteins and monoclonal antibodies.

Image: iStock/klenger

Merck will pay an initial fee of $15 million with further payments due when construction of the facility is complete.

A spokesperson from Just-Evotec would not divulge the total capacity of the site nor how much capacity will be dedicated to Merck but did tell us that the site “will have sufficient capacity to serve the market.”

The spokesperson added the deal is an extension of work between Merck and Just that began in 2015 to develop a manufacturing platform.

“We previously announced that Just and Merck are collaborating on the development of an efficient and cost-effective biologics platform. The agreement has been extended to next-generation drug development and manufacturing. Under the agreement, both companies have freedom to operate.”

Once complete, the facility will be based on Just-Evotec’s J.POD platform. This consists of disposable technologies and intensified processes aimed at reducing the cost of production, with the operations unit identical to Just-Evotec’s nearby ‘J.Design’ clinical-scale site.

The J.DESIGN offering aims at centralizing and integrating complex data sets generated from the distinct activities encompassing the development and manufacture of biologics into a common design space.