- MSD Ireland, Merck & Co.'s Dublin-based business division, is pumping hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars into two of its manufacturing facilities in the country.
- The big pharma is creating 120 new jobs at a vaccine and biologics site in Carlow and more than 200 at a biologics plant in Brinny. Additionally, it is investing €280 million ($314 million) to build out those facilities.
- The new jobs span a variety of roles, from engineering to biochemistry to managing operations. Those positions will add to MSD Ireland's existing workforce, which totals roughly 1,600. Last year, the business had €4.7 billion ($5.3 billion) in turnover, according to a Tuesday statement.
Ireland has long attracted pharmaceutical developers with its 12.5% corporate tax rate, especially among U.S. drugmakers shouldering a 35% toll. Last April, Eli Lilly announced plans to invest €35 million ($39 million) for the construction of a continuous API manufacturing plant in Kinsale. Around the same time, Alexion reported it was creating a new biologics production facility in Athlone.
Merck itself has been on an Irish manufacturing expansion of late. In 2016 alone, the company partnered with Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies in a $60 million deal to expand microbial biologics capabilities at Merck's Innishannon-based plant, and disclosed plans for 200 new positions across three of its production centers.
"Today, our Irish sites are involved in the production of over 50% of MSD’s global top 20 products, exporting to over 60 countries worldwide and helping lead the development of new life-changing medicines for patients, including MSD’s new treatments for cancer and hepatitis C," Ger Brennan, managing director of MSD Human Health in Ireland, said in the May 30 statement.
The Carlow plant is responsible for manufacturing immuno-oncology treatments, the most notable of which is Keytruda (pembrolizumab). The standout I/O drug had $1.4 billion worth of sales last year, and has been racking up a robust list of indications in recent months — victories that should prompt even more sales and therefore spur greater production.
On the other hand, the Brinny site fills a niche for fermenting, purifying and sterilizing products, and works on treatments across a breadth of therapeutic areas, including lung cancer, rheumatoid arthritis and hepatitis C.
Merck's market disrupting hep C drug Zepatier (elbasvir and grazoprevir) got the Food and Drug Administration go ahead early last year. While the medication was a key growth driver of 2016 sales, its European roll out was stymied by problems with a contract manufacturer.
Though the company's Ballydine manufacturing facility is leading the charge on Zepatier production, it's clear that building out hep C drug sites is a focus for Merck as it tries to make up for some of the lost time. To that end, MSD revealed another investment, to the tune of €40 million ($45 million), in Irish manufacturing in May, the majority of which is going to the Ballydine location.