Merck & Co. on Wednesday opened a packaging facility in Singapore to support its top-selling cancer drug and vaccine, while breaking ground on a plant that will make next-generation inhalers.
The new facilities are part of the company’s five-year plan to invest up to $500 million at its Asia-Pacific regional headquarters in Singapore.
The first site will house a semi-automated, vial-packaging line for production of Merck’s cancer immunotherapy Keytruda as well as three automated syringe-packaging lines for its HPV vaccine Gardasil. Merck’s 72-acre manufacturing site in southwest Singapore has filled Keytruda vials since 2021. The expansion adds secondary packaging, cold storage and a quality control laboratory.
Merck’s top-seller Keytruda generated $5.3 billion in sales in the second quarter, or more than than a third of the company’s total sales. Gardasil was second highest at $1.7 billion in sales during the same period.
The inhaler facility, when it opens in 2026, will manufacture “next generation inhaler devices for targeted administration of medicines,” Merck said, without giving further details.
Merck doesn’t sell many inhaled medicines currently, but is developing an inhaled drug for pulmonary arterial hypertension that’s currently in a Phase 2/3 study. That treatment is part of the company’s plans to expand its cardiovascular drug business over the next decade.
Merck estimates the added facilities will add around 100 jobs and increase its employee count to more than 1,800 in Singapore. Merck has invested $2 billion in the Southeast Asia city-state since it began operations there in 1997.
The $500 million investment is less than 3% of the company’s five-year $20 billion capital expenditure plan that includes projects supporting oncology, vaccine and animal health products. Last year, Merck spent $4.4 billion on global capital expenditures, with $2.8 billion of it in the U.S.
The company is “committed to Singapore as a strategic node in our company’s global manufacturing network with a focus” on medicines for chronic diseases, cancer and vaccines, said Fernando Otero, associate vice president for MSD Manufacturing in Singapore, in a statement.