UPDATED: Merck KGaA expands viral, cell therapy production capacity in U.S.

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Merck KGaA wants to be a go-to company to help others develop and manufacture gene-related therapies and will expand its campus in Carlsbad, CA, by nearly 50% as part of that effort.

The German company’s MilliporeSigma unit said this week that it will add about 21,000 square feet to the facility, bringing it to 65,000 square feet. The expansion, which it says will be completed yet this year, will leave it with 16 modular viral bulk manufacturing cleanroom suites, two fill/finish suites and twice the warehouse capacity. The expansion will incorporate single-use equipment in a flexible, scalable format for clinical and commercial bulk drug production, the company said in a release.

Merck would not disclose its investment in the expansion. A company spokesperson said Thursday that MilliporeSigma would add jobs to support the expansion but  that it is still determining how many.

Merck considers the Carlsbad site its flagship for viral and gene therapy work. It has segregated fill/finish capacity for gene therapy, viral vaccine and immunotherapy products. The company said the existing facilities will be fully operational during the build-out.

It says the California operation is supported by Merck’s viral and gene therapy manufacturing capacity in Glasgow, Scotland, as well as its cell-banking services in Rockville, MD.

The expansion comes as new CEO Stefan Oschmann gets his footing and tries to steer the company toward growth after years of retrenchment. Oschmann took over from Karl-Ludwig Kley last month. The company is focusing on life sciences and chemicals and last fall completed its $17 billion buyout of Sigma-Aldrich to help strengthen its hand in both categories.

- here is the release 

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Editor's Note: The story was updated to say that Merck will be adding jobs with the expansion.