Biologics manufacturing facility
In February 2018, US-based pharmaceutical company MSD announced its plans to develop a new biologics manufacturing facility in Swords, Dublin, Ireland.
To be named ‘MSD Biotech, Dublin’, the new plant is part of the company’s plan to invest $12bn over a period of five years in capital projects. MSD plans to invest $4bn in Europe and $8bn in the US.
Construction of the new biologics facility will commence in 2018, and it is expected to open in 2021. The facility will play a crucial role in the development of MSD’s biologics-based therapies.
The project is expected to generate between 700 and 1,000 jobs during the construction phase, as well as 350 jobs during operation.
MSD’s new biologics facility will be developed on an existing pre-owned 15-acre site in Swords. The site formerly housed MSD’s women’s healthcare manufacturing business, which was transferred to the Netherlands in 2016. The site is also located close to the M1 and M50 motorways and the Dublin airport.
Ireland was selected as a location for the development due to an availability of skilled labour and high standards of operations.
The existing 31,700m² facility will be expanded to a gross floor area of approximately 43,700m². An existing 13,000m² warehouse will also be extended and transformed for manufacturing operations.
New laboratories and warehouse will be built and the existing production and packaging facilities at the site will be extended.
The facility will produce various therapeutics, including immune-oncology treatments and mammalian cell culture-based protein therapeutics. One of the key drugs planned to be manufactured at the new facility is MSD’s oncology drug Keytruda (pembrolizumab).
Having gained an increased number of approvals for multiple indications for Keytruda since its first US Food and drug administration (FDA) approval in 2014, the company has seen substantial growth in its sales. The firm decided to increase its production to meet rising demand.
Keytruda is currently being produced at its facility in the Netherlands and contract manufacturing facilities located in Germany and the US.
PM Group and Jacobs Engineering were appointed as consultants for the project, while HDS Energy was subcontracted to design, manufacture and install a steam plant energy facility at the Swords location in August 2018.
HDS Energy will also supply all the equipment needed for running the steam energy plant.
Known as Merck in the US and Canada, MSD has been present in Swords since 1990.
Ireland serves as a strategic location for the company for the manufacture and supply of pharmaceutical and biotechnology products for the global market. In Ireland, MSD operates facilities in Dublin, Cork, Carlow and Tipperary, employing more than 1,800 people.
MSD has invested in excess of $2.5bn over the past 50 years to expand its facilities in Ireland. Besides the new facility, the company has announced an investment of €280m ($325.8m) in the Carlow and Cork manufacturing sites in May 2017.
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