Merck & Co to set up Asian R&D hub in China

By Gareth Macdonald

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Pharmacology

US drugmaker Merck & Co has chosen Beijing, China as the site of its Asia R&D headquarters.

The 47,000sqm lab and office facility at Wangjing Park – which is due to be operational in 2014 – will employ 600 scientists working across drug discovery, translational research, clinical development and regulatory affairs.

Peter Kim, president of Merck Research Laboratories. "By strategically locating in China, we are able to complement our existing R&D capabilities, and facilitate new collaborations with scientists in the region and across emerging markets​."

Merck’s existing facilities in China include its commercial HQ in Shanghai and a number of manufacturing plants across the country.

The new R&D facility is part of Merck’s $1.5bn (€1.1bn) investment in Asia which – just last month​ – saw it invest $250m to expand production capacity at its facility in Singapore.

It also fits with a number of R&D-focused collaborations Merck has with organisations in China.

In September 2010 the firm teamed up with State owned group Sinopharm on a vaccine-focused project and in July it established a development, manufacturing and distribution joint venture with Simcere.

More recently Merck partnered with BGI – a Beijing-based genomic research centre – on the development of personalised medicines for the country's rapidly expanding pharmaceutical market.

The investment in R&D Asia is in stark contrast with Merck activities elsewhere in recent years.

In July 2010​ Merck announced plans to sell eight labs – in Montreal, Canada; Oss and Bosmeer in the Netherlands; Odense, Denmark; Waltrop, Germany; Newhouse, Scotland; and Cambridge, US.

And – in August this year​ – Merck said it would cut yet more US jobs and instead hire people in emerging markets.

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