Merck KGaA, which has been rapidly building up is manufacturing and distribution capabilities in China, says it will now expand further in Asia.
The Darmstadt, Germany-based drugmaker Wednesday said it invest $47 million on projects in China, South Korea and India over the next two years.
It will build a new manufacturing and distribution center in the Songdo district of Incheon, South Korea, both to manufacture products for that market and expand its advanced cell culture media manufacturing capabilities. The project, which will be built on a 109,000-square-foot site, is expected to be fully operational in the fourth quarter of 2019.
It will also build a new manufacturing facility and distribution center on a 129,000-square-foot site in Mumbai, India, that will give it additional capacity for anticipated growth in that market, as well as more inventory availability and a reduction in lead times to deliver products there.
With its eye on China’s “burgeoning” biosimilars market, Merck said it is building a single-use manufacturing operation in Wuxi, China, that will be operational this year.
That comes after the now-$95 million investment the company announced a couple of years ago to build a Life Science Center located near its Nantong manufacturing site. The Life Science center is for the manufacture of high-purity inorganic salts, cell culture media products as well as ready-to-use media.
In 2016, Merck opened its $188 million manufacturing facility in Nantong to produce pharmaceuticals for China’s Essential Drug List. Merck has said it is its largest plant outside of Europe. When fully operational, the Nantong facility is slated to have about 400 workers. Its original specifications pegged the size of the plant at 40,000 square meters (about 430,000 square feet), with room to expand by another 20,000 square meters.
Merck is not the only German drugmaker with an eye on China’s growing biologics market. Last year, Boehringer Ingelheim opened an $86 million facility in Shanghai to capitalize on that market. This first phase of that facility, which will manufacture drugs using cell-based technology, has a single-use bioreactor that can handle clinical supplies or commercial production up to 2000 liters.