Merck MSD to create 400 jobs at new Gardasil production sites in the US

By Murielle Gonzalez | Published: 31-Jul-2019

Recruitment to boost HPV vaccine manufacturing and packaging operations in North Carolina

Merck will invest more than US$650 million and create more than 400 jobs in North Carolina (US) building a new production facility at its Maurice R. Hilleman Center for Vaccine Manufacturing in Durham and expanding its packaging operations in Wilson, the State's Department of Commerce has revealed.

The project will enable Merck to meet growing demand for Gardasil and Gardasil 9 recombinant human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine, which is used to prevent several cancers associated with HPV.

"The life science industry cluster in North Carolina enjoys a well-earned reputation as one of the nation's leading centres for biotech innovation," said North Carolina Commerce Secretary Anthony Copeland. "Merck's long experience in our state gave them the confidence to bring this important new operation to North Carolina."

Merck, with headquarters in Kenilworth, New Jersey and known as MSD outside of the United States and Canada, specialises in discovery and deveopment of medicines and vaccines for many of the world's most challenging diseases. The company operates in more than 140 countries.

The Gardasil 9 vaccine helps prevent nine strains of HPV, including two HPV types that cause an estimated 70% of cervical cancers.

HPV vaccine

Merck's project to expand its North Carolina facilities includes plans to design, build, and win qualification from the FDA for a new 225,000 sqft manufacturing facility to produce active ingredient for the vaccine.

The new facility will be located at Merck's current manufacturing centre in Durham.

"Merck is delighted to bring additional investment and jobs to North Carolina," said Sanat Chattopadhyay, Executive Vice President at Merck, and President of the Merck Manufacturing Division.

"Our Durham and Wilson plants are key strategic sites in the Merck global manufacturing network. And the strong support of the state is critical for the success of businesses such as ours."

Merck is delighted to bring additional investment and jobs to North Carolina

The North Carolina Department of Commerce and the Economic Development Partnership of NC. (EDPNC) led the state's support for the company's decision.

Job creation

Merck's project in North Carolina will be facilitated, in part, by a Job Development Investment Grant (JDIG) approved by the state's Economic Investment Committee.

Merck will invest up to $650m in the Durham location and create 391 jobs there. In Wilson County, the company will invest up to $30m to expand its existing packaging operations, creating 34 jobs.

Using a formula that takes into account the new tax revenues generated by the new jobs, the JDIG agreement authorises the potential reimbursement to the company of up to $4,974,750, spread over 12 years.

As with many of the state's incentive packages, the company's JDIG agreement includes a requirement to retain a certain number of positions in the state to qualify for grant payments for the new jobs announced today.

Merck's manufacturing operations in North Carolina currently support 1,234 positions, which will serve as the company's retention requirement.

Changes in market demand

The company's transformation at its Durham site includes the end of bulk production for its drug product varicella, due to changes in market demand.

As a result, Merck will eliminate the positions of up to 150 current full-time employees at the plant. Most of the job reductions will be immediate. However, these positions are included in Merck's retention target, which means the company must return to current staffing levels before adding the 425 jobs being announced today.

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