Under the deal - believed to be in the region of $490m (€356m) - Fujifilm will acquire Diosynth, of Research Triangle Park, North Carolina, US, and MSD Biologics, based in Billingham, UK. The plants are used in the manufacture of biologics for vaccines and human protein-based drugs.
Fujifilm CEO, Shigetaka Komori, said:“This acquisition provides an important addition to our pharmaceutical business with diverse capabilities and technical expertise in production of protein therapeutics.”
Central to the agreement with Fujifilm is Merck's commitment to continue development and manufacturing activities at both units. The Japanese firm estimates the market for biologic vaccines and drugs will increase by 15 per cent a year, and it expects to triple its healthcare sales over the next decade.
Merck bought MSD Biologics in 2009 as part of its $49bn (€35.5) purchase of Schering-Plough. Merck spokesman Ian McConnell, said the decision to sell the Merck BioManufacturing Network was part of its “ongoing effort to focus on core competencies.
“Commitment to developing biologics and biosimilar products remains unchanged,” he said.
The deal with Merck represents the fifth acquisition by Fujifilm in the past year as it seeks to strengthen its foothold in the healthcare market. In August the company purchased Aichi-based Japan Tissue Engineering Ltd for $47.4m (€34.2m), and established a generic-drug joint venture with Mitsubishi Corp.
News of Fujifilm's continued expansion into the healthcare market comes after the company posted disappointing financial results for the last year. The Japanese firm, which makes equipment for medical scans, made a loss of $416m (€301m) primarily attributed to restructuring costs and the weakening dollar.
Sales from imaging solutions also declined by ten per cent over the same period, alongside a two per cent dip in revenue from the company's medical systems and life sciences sectors.