UPDATED: Merck to outfit $60M biologics plant for Fujifilm to use

Vials in a case with open caps

Japan’s Fujifilm jumped into biologics contract manufacturing about 5 years ago by buying two plants from Merck & Co., when the U.S. drugmaker dropped that line of business. Now the two are forging a new kind of partnership in which Merck will outfit an API plant at its biologics site in Ireland that Fuji will help operate.

Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies announced the deal Monday. It said Merck ($MRK), known as MSD outside of the U.S., will outfit a $60 million facility at its Brinny manufacturing plant in Innishannon, County Cork, Ireland, where Merck has been doing biologics manufacturing for more than three decades. A Fujifilm spokesperson said Tuesday that the facilty is already at the site and that equipment has been ordered. Fuji said it expects the facility to be operational in early 2018.

The plant, Fuji said, will allow it to add capacity for its operations and “benefit from MSD’s strong track record with large-scale microbial operations.” The Japanese company said it will handle “customer interactions, program management and process and analytical development, and the MSD facility in Brinny will operate as cGMP manufacturing support for Fujifilm Diosynth’s CDMO business.”

Merck’s President of Manufacturing Sanat Chattopadhyay said in a statement the collaboration allows “MSD to use and further develop the skills and competencies of the people at the MSD site in Brinny and build on the site’s long tradition of manufacturing excellence.”

Fujifilm in 2011 paid a reported $490 million to buy biologics plants in North Carolina and Northeast England after Merck decided it wanted out of the contract biologics manufacturing side of things. Fuji has expanded both of those sites. It has also bought a 49% interest in vaccine specialist Kalon Biotherapeutics, which is working with GlaxoSmithKline ($GSK) on a $91 million government-backed vaccine plant in Texas.

- here’s the Fuji release

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