After A Rather Checkered Past Five Years, Merck Makes Important New Vaccine Investment — In Ireland: Carlow

We have covered the fallout from Fred Hassan’s overpromise/underdeliver antics, on the Emerald Isle, lo’ these past seven years, at least.

So it is wonderful to see Kenilworth putting even a modest amount of new capital to work, inside Carlow — a world-class biologics facility — and now, a fine vaccines facility. [A few years ago Merck put almost $335 million in to modernize the facility, as legacy Schering-Plough withdrew from Rathdrum, in County Wicklow.] It would make sense to manufacture the Ebola vaccine there, inasmuch as that is a low cost jurisdiction, and Merck will need to get the very lowest cost structure for that candidate to make a profit, in the still-developing world — where the bulk of it will be sold. No published report indicates that this is behind Merck’s thinking — it is purely my (experienced) conjecture. Here’s a bit, from FiercePharma Manufacturing — do go read it all:

. . . .Merck, known as MSD outside of the U.S., said last week that it would invest €11.5 million ($12.4 million) in the Carlow facility. In an announcement, the company didn’t specifically line out how it would invest the money at the site where it has a 200,000-square-foot manufacturing facility but in an email, a Merck spokesperson said the “infrastructure” investment” will include a training facility. There are no new jobs coming at this time from the “phased project,” the spokesperson said but about 440 people currently work there.

MSD pointed out Carlow is its first standalone human vaccine facility. . . .

Carlow is also supporting the Kenilworth effort to ramp up Keytruda®, a very promising oncolology monoclonal antibody — and that tech will lever nicely, in manufacturing an engineered Ebola vaccine inserted into a cold livestock virus container/casing. Onward, one and all!

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