Merck KGaA JV set to start producing drugs in remote Algerian village

Germany's Merck KGaA has for some years been taking steps to cash in on the growing population in emerging markets of people needing treatment for diabetes and associated conditions, sometimes building plants to make its diabetes treatments locally. Working through a joint venture, a plant is starting production in North Africa.

Merck invested €5 million ($5.3 million) to establish a plant in Bou Ismail, what it referred to as a remote village 40 kilometers west of Algiers. The plant, which will begin production next year, will have the capacity to make 500 million tablets of diabetes and high blood pressure meds. It transferred the technology to a joint venture established with the Algerian laboratory Novapharm.

"By sharing good manufacturing practices and transfer of technology and know-how, this alliance between Merck and Novapharm will have a positive impact on production capacity and the future of the pharmaceutical industry in Algeria," Bernd Reckmann, a Merck board member, said in a statement.

Moncef Meklati, CEO of Merck in Algeria, said, "We are proud that today our medicines are produced by Algerians for Algerians, with a manufacturing and control process identical to that used at our sites in Europe."

On a much larger scale, Merck last year began work an €80 million ($107.67 million) plant in Shanghai that it says will be its second-largest facility in the world. China, a market it says is key to its future. It will be about 40,000 square meters (430,556 square feet) and have room for a 20,000-square-meter expansion. The company expects to wrap up construction in 2016 and start commercial production in 2017.

Again working through local partnerships, it has targeted the Middle East for diabetes treatments. It has plants in the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain built through joint ventures.

- here's the announcement