UPDATED: Merck injects another $12.4M in its newest vaccine plant

The $335 million Merck ($MRK) biologics plant in Ireland that went online last year is already getting another investment.

Merck, known as MSD outside of the U.S., said last week that it would invest €11.5 million ($12.4 million) in the Carlow facility. In an announcement, the company didn't specifically line out how it would invest the money at the site where it has a 200,000-square-foot manufacturing facility, but in an email, a Merck spokesperson said the "infrastructure" investment" will include a training facility. There are no new jobs coming at this time from the "phased project," the spokesperson said, but about 440 people currently work there.

MSD pointed out that Carlow is its first standalone human vaccine facility and is also leading MSD's work in the development of pembrolizumab (Keytruda), which was approved in the U.S. last year for treating melanoma. It is a PD-1 inhibitor, a new class of cancer fighters for which analysts are anticipating huge financial returns in a very few years.

"Through our continued focus on innovation and new product development, we look forward to growing our manufacturing output in Ireland and offering new treatment options to patients," MSD site lead Jean-Albert Pittaluga said in the statement.

The Carlow plant was part of a $1 billion investment that Merck made in its vaccine manufacturing network that it kicked off about a decade ago. The overhaul included vaccine manufacturing operations in West Point and Elkton, VA, as well as Durham, NC, where it employs 1,100 people and which manufactures its bulk varicella for its chickenpox and shingles vaccines and finished chickenpox vaccines.

- here's the release

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