Merck Sharp & Dohme Manufacturing Plant Expansion
The Merck Sharp and Dohme (MSD) manufacturing facility in Ireland was first established back in 1976 and was constructed on a 188-acre site at Ballydine, Co. Tipperary. It currently employs over 340 people including process operators, technicians, chemists, engineers and IT specialists.
In 1997–1999 the MSD production facility at Ballydine underwent a two-year capacity expansion project costing in the region of £130m ($185m).
Following this project production capacity was increased by 50%. During the process the plant was supported by the County Tipperary Development team, the South Tipperary Council and the Industrial Development Authority (IDA). Raytheon was awarded a contract in 1997 to provide engineering, procurement, and construction services for the facility, and the contract was completed in 1999.
Bulk active ingredients manufacturing
The expanded facility at Ballydine is Merck's primary bulk manufacturing plant in Europe and represents the single largest capital investment by the company outside the USA.
As the foremost facility of its kind within the European Union, the plant is heavily involved in the production of bulk active ingredients for a wide range of healthcare products. These ingredients are then exported to other Merck facilities where they are formulated into dosage forms.
The plant can use approximately 600,000 gallons of water a day, which is sourced from the nearby River Suir. Waste from the plant is treated in an activated sludge waste treatment system, which removes chemical traces from the sludge before the wastewater can be recycled for future use.
Organic synthesis plant
Ballydine is an organic synthesis plant where production is carried out in two phases. These are known as the "Wet" and "Dry" phases. In the "Wet" section of the manufacturing building, liquid and solid raw materials are mixed and processed. The final product is then refined and packaged in the "Dry" or finishing section of the building.
A typical product manufacturing cycle includes chemical reaction, extraction, separation, distillation, filtration and isolation stages in the wet section, followed by drying, milling, blending and packaging in the dry area before dispatch to the finished product warehouse.
A modern computer system is used to control all processes throughout the entire pharmaceutical facility. This ensures not only product quality, but also the plant's impeccable safety performance and environmental safeguards.
In November 2006 a new investment was announced at the Ballydine plant for a new formulation R&D and Manufacturing facility, which will help to secure the future of the plant and mean further employment in the region.
The construction of the new facility was initiated in 2007. The plant was officially inaugurated in September 2011.
The company’s decision to locate a formulation R&namp;D and Manufacturing Facility in Ballydine was based on a number of factors such as the consistent support and encouragement we received from the Irish Government, the availability of skills in the industry necessary for an operation of this level and a supportive business environment in which to operate.
A further €6m investment is being planned for extending the capacity of the plant.
The investment was for two specific areas of activity: an R&D centre that develops innovative platforms for the formulation of products used in late-stage clinical trials; and a pharmaceutical manufacturing facility that enables the production of tablets and capsules. The investment created 70 new positions over the next three years, and is expected to create another 50 as new products are developed.
Six new drugs are being developed at the facility for the treatment hepatitis C and cholesterol/type 2 diabetes in combination.