Healthcare Industry News:  neurodegenerative 

Biopharmaceuticals

 News Release - April 16, 2008

Merck Announces Planned Investment of $50 Million in Research Center in the US

GENEVA, April 16 (HSMN NewsFeed) -- Merck Serono and its US affiliate EMD Serono, Inc., both part of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, announced today a planned expansion of EMD Serono's US presence with an anticipated investment of $50 million at its Billerica facility northwest of Boston, Massachusetts. The company anticipates that this investment will create more than 100 new jobs in Massachusetts.

The investment will support the construction of a center of excellence in discovery, creating critical mass in research with a common goal of finding new treatments for unmet medical needs.

"This announcement reflects Merck KGaA's strong commitment to expand EMD Serono and anchor our US operations in Massachusetts," said Elmar Schnee, Member of the Executive Board Merck KGaA and President of Merck Serono. "We recognize the significant value of augmenting our research capabilities in Boston - a region with tremendous life-sciences influence not only across the US, but also globally."

Once complete, the new site will accommodate approximately 200 scientists with expertise in cancer biology, cancer immunotherapy, oncogene signaling, manufacturing cell lines, medicinal chemistry, molecular modeling, protein engineering, and therapeutic antibodies, across the research areas of cancer and fertility, as well as approximately 50 employees in Technical Operations who specialize in process development and protein production.

The company's protein production facility in Billerica, which manufactures products for early stage clinical testing, is a significant reason why the site was selected for expansion; the close proximity of protein production to research drives collaborative interactions and supports the rapid transition from research to manufacturing.

"This investment demonstrates the value of our US operations as a crucial component of the global organization's long-term success," says Fereydoun Firouz, CEO and President of EMD Serono, Inc. "We are committed to growing our footprint in Massachusetts and the US, as we fuel the future of the organization by expanding on our discovery efforts and driving our pipeline forward, to ultimately make a difference in patients' lives."

Construction at the new site will begin early next year and is expected to be complete in 2010. Upon completion, the total square footage of the Billerica Campus will be approximately 64,000 square meters, including more than 48,800 square meters of lab space.

"We will harness the power of our scientific expertise and understanding of disease biology, and leverage the tremendous amount of academic and healthcare resources available to us in nearby Boston, to further strengthen our dedication to finding new and innovative treatments that improve the quality of life for people living with serious diseases," says Bernhard Kirschbaum, head of global research for Merck Serono.

The US headquarters of EMD Serono will remain in Rockland, Massachusetts. The company will strengthen its leadership position in its current therapeutic areas of neurodegenerative Diseases and Endocrinology, and build the necessary infrastructure to support an increase in US clinical trials, as well as commercial growth in new areas of expertise, including cancer and autoimmune/inflammatory diseases.

About Merck Serono

Merck Serono is the division for innovative prescription pharmaceuticals of Merck, a global pharmaceutical and chemical group. Headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, Merck Serono discovers, develops, manufactures and markets innovative small molecules and biopharmaceuticals to help patients with unmet medical needs. Its North American business operates in the United States and Canada as EMD Serono.

Merck Serono has leading brands serving patients with cancer (Erbitux®), multiple sclerosis (Rebif®), infertility (Gonal-f®), endocrine and cardiometabolic disorders (Glucophage®, Concor®, Saizen®, Serostim®), as well as psoriasis (Raptiva®).

With an annual R&D investment of around EUR 1bn, Merck Serono is committed to growing its business in specialist-focused therapeutic areas including neurodegenerative diseases, oncology, fertility and endocrinology, as well as new areas potentially arising out of research and development in autoimmune and inflammatory diseases.

About Merck

Merck is a global pharmaceutical and chemical company with total revenues of EUR 7.1 billion in 2007, a history that began in 1668, and a future shaped by 30,968 employees in 60 countries. Its success is characterized by innovations from entrepreneurial employees. Merck's operating activities come under the umbrella of Merck KGaA, in which the Merck family holds an approximately 70% interest and free shareholders own the remaining approximately 30%. In 1917 the U.S. subsidiary Merck & Co. was expropriated and has been an independent company ever since.

For more information, please visit http://www.merckserono.net or http://www.merck.de


Source: Merck Serono International

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