Merck Sharp & Dohme (MSD) has increased the production of its measles vaccine in the US to meet a rise in demand following an outbreak.
The drugmaker is one of the only suppliers of measles vaccines in the US, noted Reuters. Merck said that the increase in demand was evident but has not led to a significant increase in distribution.
This year’s measles outbreak is said to be the largest since 1994. The disease was declared eliminated in 2000.
Statistics from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) show that nearly 704 individuals have been affected in 22 states from 1 January to 26 April.
Merck believes that it will be able to meet this growing demand.
Merck chief marketing officer Mike Nally said: “As measles outbreaks have occurred in different parts of the world over the last few decades, we’ve always been able to surge capacity, and we feel confident about our ability to do so in the US.”
The company recently announced financial results for the first quarter of this year, reporting $10.8bn in global sales, a rise of 8% compared with the same quarter of 2018. This was followed by a securities filing, which disclosed plans to restructure the company’s manufacturing and supply network in a bid to mitigate its global real estate footprint.
Expected to be completed by the end of 2023, the restructuring is estimated to incur pre-tax costs of between $800m and $1.2bn.
Merck said that nearly 55% of the cumulative pre-tax costs will be in cash for employee separation expense and facility shutdowns, while the remaining 45% will be towards “accelerated depreciation of facilities to be closed or divested.”