Merck invests €150 million in Switzerland

To increase production of its biotech medicines Merck has invested in its Aubonne site, increasing the locations profile as a manufacturing hub

Large scale downstream Area, Biopharma in Vevey, Switzerland

German Merck is set to make major investments in its biotech production capabilities, spending funds on improving facilities in Switzerland until 2023.

The science and technology will spend €150 million ($168 million) at its Aubonne, Switzerland site, to expand manufacturing capacity for its biotech medicines.

The hope expressed by Philippe Leuba, Councillor of Vaud State, where Aubonne is located, is that the investment is one more step towards a strong positioning of the Canton de Vaud as a Health Valley, which already includes 360 companies, 400 laboratories and 20,000 jobs.

The investment will cover a new building dedicated to the company’s biotech medicines destined for more than 150 countries, helping to meet increasing patient needs for flagship medicines such as fertility treatment Gonal-f, newly launched therapies such as cancer drug Bavencio and potential future products currently in clinical development such as cancer investigational treatment M7824.

With the sites of Aubonne and nearby Vevey, Switzerland is the prime hub of Merck’s manufacturing for biotech medicines. With this latest expansion, the company will have invested more than €800 million in Switzerland over the past ten years, reflecting the strategic importance of the country, where it employs 2,300 employees across 11 locations.

The progress in making Switzerland a manufacturing hub runs parallel to the company’s efforts with the headquarters in Germany, investing €1billion from 2015 to now, and recommitting to the same amount over the next five years.

This money is in part earmarked to create a vocational and advanced training centre. However, a company spokesperson told Bioprocess International that the money would also be used to build new plants.

At the samw time, Merck has also said it will invest $70 million into the US R&D hub in Massachusetts and its looking into a new membrane plant in Darmstadt.

These major investments reinforce the company’s presence in three of its key countries.

Swiss capabilities

The new building in Aubonne will be equipped with cutting-edge technologies dedicated to aseptic filling and quality control, with a flexible operations model to deliver increased productivity.

The new lines for the aseptic filling of biotech medicines will be equipped with isolator technology, representing best practice in aseptic filling to ensure the safety of injectable medicines. One line will be dedicated to freeze-dried formulations, the other to liquid formulations.

These two new lines, as well as the new quality control labs, will replace existing infrastructure with technological upgrades and higher capacity allowing to produce up to 27 million vials per year.

The construction of the new building is expected to be completed in 2020, with the new quality control labs operational in 2021 and the new lines for aseptic filling in 2023, following validation by regulatory authorities.

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