Merck And Co Vaccine Facility, Carlow
Merck Sharpe and Dohme, the world's seventh largest pharmaceutical company, has a highly successful vaccine division. Merck Vaccines produces a range of live and attenuated vaccine products against hepatitis, zoster, rubella, measles and haemophilus.
As part of a new investment into the vaccines business Merck is now building a new strategic vaccines facility in Carlow Town on a 65-acre site in the IDA Business and Technology Park. Carlow County Council sold the site to the IDA in 2000 for direct foreign investment.
Since then, the IDA has invested in the site infrastructure culminating in Merck taking over the site.
The investment for the new facility is $280m (€200m) and the project is receiving support from IDA Ireland and local authorities including the county council, Carlow County Enterprise Board, County Carlow Chamber of Commerce and the Institute of Technology Carlow. Phase one plans for the facility were submitted to the planning department in mid-2008 for consideration.
The new vaccine and biologics facility will bolster Merck's expanding global human vaccines business providing important capacity. The project will create 170 new high-quality jobs by 2011 across all areas of management, quality control, production, engineering, R&D and administration.
Minister for Enterprise, Trade and Employment, Micheál Martin, commented: "This is an excellent day for Carlow and the whole South-East region as it will provide extensive high quality employment opportunities. It will also provide a significant cumulative boost for the region's economy as, initially, it will provide several hundred jobs in the construction phase and, subsequently, through the facility's operation, its need for numerous specialist services, purchases of support activities, and the overall ripple effect created by such a substantial investment.
"The global competition for this investment has been intense and the decision to locate it in Ireland follows an international site selection study by Merck.
"This investment is a further very strong commitment to Ireland by Merck which already has substantial and successful operations in Ireland... This latest investment represents a very significant consolidation of Ireland's high-profile position as a successful location for substantial biotechnology global investments."
The new Merck Carlow facility will be the first stand-alone human vaccine project in Ireland and will involve a formulation/manufacturing building and a sterile filling operation. In addition, there will be an R&D element at the plant to support recently launched vaccines and develop new products for the future. The company is also keen to collaborate with Irish academic institutions for biologics production. Construction is expected to begin on the new plant in summer 2009.
Dr John T McCubbins, vice president of global vaccine manufacturing for Merck, commented: "The site for this investment, which is a critical part of Merck's strategy for the future, required a location where we are confident the necessary skilled people, support infrastructure and track record in implementing projects of this scale exists – that is why we chose Ireland.
"To date our Irish operations have proven their ability to implement additional investments and new activities with great success and without delay. This gives us the assurance that this new facility will be constructed and up and running in Carlow in accordance with our demanding deadlines and the very high standards we require.
"We are very excited about coming to Carlow, one of the fastest growing towns in Ireland. It has strong leadership and deep commitment to economic development that is evident from the level of economic activity currently taking place in the town. It is centrally located and has an excellent Institute of Technology capable of supplying the necessary skills that we require. It is a very attractive place to live with a wide range of competitively priced housing and plenty of amenities. Carlow is an excellent location to commence the next chapter of Merck's presence in Ireland."