Merck Serono, the division for innovative pharmaceuticals of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, at the Merck Serono Biotech Center (MSBC), its production site in Corsier-sur-Vevey, Switzerland, to mark the expansion of the site.

 

The expansion will enable the production of greater quantities of Erbitux® (cetuximab), in order to meet growing patient needs, as well as the production of potential future treatments in autoimmune and inflammatory diseases currently under clinical development. Erbitux, Merck Serono's monoclonal antibody for the targeted treatment of colorectal and head and neck cancers, is currently available in around 70 countries.

"The expansion of the Merck Serono Biotech Center embodies our company's primary commitment to bringing therapeutic innovations to patients with serious unmet medical needs," said Elmar Schnee, General Partner and Member of the Executive Board of Merck KGaA and President of Merck Serono. "This investment will cement our company's position as a leader in biotechnology, while contributing to the local economy with the creation of more than 200 new jobs, and its construction will create business opportunities for local companies."

Hanns-Eberhard Erle, Executive Vice President Technical Operations of Merck Serono added: "This expansion underscores our commitment to excellence at all levels and will serve as a catalyst towards our goal of becoming a responsible world leader in providing specialist therapies. Through efficient manufacturing processes to scale up the production and the use of state-of-the-art technologies, the Merck Serono Biotech Center will continue to be one of the top centers of excellence for biotechnology in the world."

Two new dedicated production suites with 120,000 litres of bioreactor capacity, plus a state-of-the-art wastewater treatment station and a logistic center will be added to the existing facilities by the end of 2010. After inspection by worldwide health authorities, including the EMEA and Swissmedic, the production of Erbitux is expected to start at the MSBC in 2012.

Inaugurated in April 1999, the MSBC currently manufactures the active ingredient for Merck Serono's leading multiple sclerosis treatment Rebif® (interferon beta-1a) for the global market, as well as various therapeutic proteins for the ongoing clinical trials in development at Merck Serono. The two existing production suites are currently operated by 250 qualified employees including laboratory personnel, engineers and biologists. Merck Serono uses state-of-the-art technology and implements environmental management programs to reduce waste and energy consumption. Accordingly, the MSBC has been operating under ISO 14001:2004 certification, the international standard for environmental excellence, since 2005.

Powered by 25 production sites and 5,000 employees across four continents, Merck Serono today manufactures and distributes an extensive portfolio of biotechnological and pharmaceutical drugs including Rebif®, Saizen®, Serostim®, Gonal-f®, Glucophage®, ConCor® and Euthyrox®. In Switzerland, Merck Serono operates three sites in the Vaud Canton: Corsier-sur-Vevey (manufacturing of active ingredients), Aubonne (manufacturing of active ingredients, fill and finish, packaging) and Coinsins (packaging and logistics).