CORRECTION - Dispatches from BIO 2016

Merck & Co. and Fujifilm team to share capabilities at new $60m microbial plant

By Dan Stanton

- Last updated on GMT

MSD facility in Brinney, Irelan (source Google)
MSD facility in Brinney, Irelan (source Google)

Related tags Biotechnology

A new $60m facility at a MSD site in Ireland will offer Fujifilm Diosynth customers 20,000L of microbial biologics capacity in a collaboration between the two firms.

MSD – known as Merck & Co. in North America – is investing $60m (€53m) at its site in Brinny, County Cork to build a large-scale microbial-based biologics facility.

The plant will manufacture biologic APIs to service clients of Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies as part of a long-term collaboration between the two firms.

“MSD will be operating the facility [while] Fujifilm Diosynth will manage the commercial and programme management aspects,”​ spokesperson Liza Rivera told at this year’s BIO convention in San Francisco.

“Fujifilm brings its experience in process development and scale-up experience, MSD brings the large scale track record.”

Such a partnership between a Big Biopharma firm and a contract development and manufacturing organisation (CDMO) is not common in the industry, Rivera continued, but harks back to Fujifilm's acquisition of certain MSD biomanufacturing assest back in 2011​.

But such a “new direction”​ between the two firms can maximise capabilities between the two sectors, Rivera said.

“Fujifilm Diosynth is always open to new and innovative ways to expand its offerings to the market place so we will of course keep our options open.”

The new facility – set to be operational in early 2018 - will house a 20,000L fermenter with high intensity fermentation and utilise stainless steel/single-use hybrid in the downstream.

A Merck & Co. spokesperson did not comment further on the collaboration when asked.

Biologics network

The joint venture complements Fujifilm’s biologics network, which includes sites in in Billingham, UK and Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. The firm offers microbial fermentation bioreactors of between 100L and 5,000L and on the mammalian cell culture side, the firm has recently installed 2,000L single-use bioreactors​ at both sites.

MSD, meanwhile, has continued to invest in its Irish large molecule network, with this latest spend coming a year after the firm pledged €11.5m​ at its Keytruda (anti-PD1 mAb) facility in Carlow, and months after announcing it was adding an extra 200 production jobs​ in the country.

CORRECTION - the original article said the plant would manufacture Merck/MSD products with extra capacity being managed by Fujifilm for its own clients. The capacity will be fully for Fujifilm as part of an MSD collaboration.

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