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Roche and Merck boost manufacturing capacity

Pharma companies invest in European facilities
Roche Basel Switzerland

Switzerland's Roche and German company Merck KGaA have both unveiled expansion programmes for European manufacturing facilities.

Roche has set aside a little over $95m to build a new small-molecule production facility at the site of its headquarters in Basel, Switzerland, that will be operation in the third quarter of 2016, along with $39m to expand and upgrade an existing plant in Basel that should be completed in the middle of 2015.

The latest spending round brings Roche's total investment in manufacturing to more than $1bn, coming on top of an investment of some $880m to boost its capacity to make biologic drugs, creating around 500 jobs. The company did not indicate whether the latest investment would boost its manufacturing headcount.

Roche has previously said it will spend around $210m on an antibody-drug conjugate (ADC) unit in Basel that will be used to make its breast cancer therapy Kadcyla (trastuzumab emtansine) and other ADCs in is pipeline, as well as nearly $300m to expand plants in the US and a whopping $385m on its Penzberg biotechnology plant in Germany.

Meanwhile, Merck said it has earmarked €50m ($41m) to expand capacity at its biologic manufacturing facility in Bari, Italy, to cope with increased demand.

A new facility in Bari will come online in 2017 for the sterile filling and packaging of liquid drugs into syringes, vials, and ampoules, and will be used to meet demand for a number of Merck Serono drugs, including brands such as Gonal-f (follitropin-alfa) used to treat fertility.

Merck Serono has been seeing rising sales of Gonal-f and other products such as cancer drug Erbitux (cetuximab) in emerging markets, particularly China, Turkey and Russia.

Merck generates more than half of the sales of its Merck Serono division from its biotech products, and earlier this month reported that while overall revenues at the unit fell slightly to €1.37bn in the first quarter of the year, organic growth was 4.5 per cent and emerging market growth was around 7 per cent.

Gonal-f was its fastest-growing product, with sales up 11 per cent to €152m in the quarter.

Article by
Phil Taylor

22nd May 2014

From: Sales

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