Merck & Co to Halt Production at NJ Plant and Focus on Biologics R&D

By Dan Stanton

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags New jersey

Another Merck & Co. Plant Closes
Another Merck & Co. Plant Closes
Merck & Co. will close the doors on its Kenilworth, New Jersey manufacturing plant affecting 100 jobs in a continuation of its consolidation efforts.

The closure of the manufacturing unit  was announced late last month by Merck & Co. (known as MSD outside North America), however, the firm has now formally set a shuttering date according to spokesperson Lainie Keller.

Keller told “operations have already been moved to other Merck facilities, primarily to Cleveland, Tennessee,”​ and “the final operating unit at Kenilworth – tablet manufacturing – will close on October 1.”

She confirmed that the 100 or so manufacturing staff employed at the plant will lose their jobs and added that the redundancies were announced in January 2011 as “part of Merck’s previously announced plans to consolidate its manufacturing operations worldwide."

In 2009 Merck acquired a number of facilities through its $41bn (€31bn) merger with Schering-Plough​ and has since been pursuing an active consolidation strategy amongst sites, Kenilworth being the latest example.

Earlier this year, an API facility in Oss, Netherlands - another former Schering-Plough site - was sold to generic drugmaker Aspen for $1bn​.

Furthermore in March, Merck announced it was to shutter another PI facility in County Wicklow, Ireland, telling us at the time it was part of its “ongoing review of worldwide manufacturing capabilities that has resulted in sites being sold, closed, or consolidated in all regions.”

Discussing the firm's Q2 results last week, Merck’s CFO Peter Kellogg said the firm had an extensive manufacturing network “of over 90 plants”​ due to the combination of three companies: Merck, Schering-Plough, and Organon (acquired by Schering-Plough in 2007​).

However, he said, the firm has pushed this number down to the low 70s as part of the streamlining process, telling stakeholders: “I think there is more to come.”

R&D Remains

Though manufacturing at Kenilworth is to go, Keller told us the site will still remain important to Merck with “ongoing integrated research and development activities [continuing] in newly renovated laboratory space,​” a function of the site previously deemed vital by the firm​ following the merger.

“In addition, a new wing was recently completed which will house Merck’s biologics development activities,”​ she said. “The site's future focus will be on small molecule and biologics R&D and new product launch support activities.”

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