- Merck KGaA has expanded its manufacturing site at its Darmstadt, Germany headquarters to "support growth of current and future portfolio of pharma medicines."
- The plant will house eight fully automated packaging lines and robotized logistics. It will be able to process over 210 million boxes of medicines annually, including track and trace to prevent counterfeiting, and smart packaging to help with logistics.
- Since 2015, the German company has invested 63 million euros (about $72 million) in the new 15,000-square-meter building, which will package and ship drugs to more than 90 countries.
German Merck's investment in its packaging plant is part of the company's wider €1 billion ($1.1 billion) effort to transform its Darmstadt site. Merck is celebrating its 350 year anniversary this year, and traces its roots back to Friedrich Jacob Merck's pharmacy in Darmstadt in 1668.
"Darmstadt is our prime hub for the manufacturing of medicines and it plays a key role in our plans for future growth," Merck KGaA CEO Stefan Oschmann said in a statement. "This latest investment in a new state-of-the-art packaging center reflects our commitment to our headquarters and is a compelling example of how we use the latest technological advances to always better serve our patients."
The expansion, according to the company, is to meet "increasing patient needs" for drugs such as Glucophage (metformin) for type 2 diabetes; Concor (bisoprolol) for raised blood pressure; and Euthyrox (levothyroxine) for thyroid disease.
It also aims to help future-proof the building for manufacturing. In a news release, the company said it would "provide capacity for potential future pharma products currently in clinical development such as evobrutinib in the area of neurology-immunology or tepotinib in the area of oncology."
The plant's track and trace capabilities are likely to be key, as traceability takes an increasingly important role. The concept helps ensure product verification, serialization and traceability of individual packs of drugs throughout the entire supply chain.
In Europe, the EU Falsified Medicines Directive, adopted in July 2011 and put into place in January 2013, has a deadline of February 2019 and requires 2D barcodes and tamperproof packaging.