US-based pharmaceutical major Merck has opened a €100m R&D facility at Ballydine, Co Tipperary, Ireland.

The facility will house 70 new R&D roles, with the capacity to expand to 120 should new innovative medicines be developed. An additional investment of €6m is already planned to cater for the extra capacity.

Six drugs are currently in development at the facility, including Merck’s candidate drug for the treatment of hepatitis C and a dual high cholesterol/type II diabetes medication.

Three of Merck’s five top priority candidate medicine research programmes are now based at the facility.

Ballydine will also supply materials to support Merck’s worldwide clinical research programme.