The facility, which will be operated by Merck Serono, will manage the German drugmaker’s clinical trial operations in the country and, according to spokesman Gangolf Schrimpf, will build on its existing presence.
Dr Schrimpf told in-PharmaTechnologist that: “[Merck} is keen to further develop in-house clinical research capacity in emerging markets,” adding that the firm already has 50 dedicated R&D staff in China.
Schrimpf went on to say however that, despite the new in-house capacity the centre will provide, “co-operation with local contract research organisations [CROs] is not out of the question,” explaining that Merck is currently involved in six such partnerships in the country.
He added that the centre will house biomarker, pharmacogenomics and bioanalytics capacity and is primarily designed to serve the growing Asian market, which was a key driver for the investment.
However, Schrimpf also stressed the centre’s role in Merck’s wider R&D network, which includes units in Germany, Switzerland and the US, citing the recent FLEX Erbitux study as an example of one that included patients from both Asia and Europe.
Merck Serono plans to access China’s R&D pool to staff the new facility, according to R&D executive VP Bernhard Kirschbaum who said the firm’s efforts to recruit locally will benefit both its operations in China and its global research capacity.
In all, Merck expects to create 200 new research jobs at the facility over the next four years.