Merck KGaA expands Spanish biologics site that produces hot-selling Gonal-f

Merck kgaa

Merck KGaA, whose sales of fertility drugs have benefited from competitor supply problems, will now have even more of its Gonal-f fertility drug to sell. The German company said today that it has completed expansion of a plant in Spain that is its main source of the product.

The two-year, €15 million ($16.5 million) expansion at the biologics facility in Tres Cantos, Madrid, Spain, is now complete, the drugmaker said today. The project boosted the capacity at the facility by 50% and will result in a 20% increase in jobs without providing a precise number. The facility also makes Merck’s growth hormone product Saizen.

The 8,000-square-meter (86,111-square-foot) project added 900 square meters (9,687 square feet) of biotech production space and a two-floor office building.

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“We are continuously investing in our manufacturing network to maintain state-of-the-art industry level and adapt its capacity to patient needs for our medicines,” Thierry Hulot, who heads Merck’s global manufacturing and supply for the biopharma, said in a statement. Merck says it has invested €250 million in its manufacturing network this year.  

Merck has seen strong sales of Gonal-f. It was a key contributor to Q2 growth, with sales up 23.1% to €209 million, from €177 million in Q2 the year before. Most of that growth came in the U.S., where it benefited from what Merck termed an "advantageous competitive situation."

It gained an advantage after competitors Ferring Pharmaceutical in September 2015 recalled 42 lots of its fertility drug Bravelle because of potency concerns. Then last May, the other Merck ($MRK), known as MSD outside the U.S., reported a supply interruption for its ovulation-stimulating hormone Follistim, a supply issue it said it expected to resolve within months.

- here’s the release

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