New Plant Means New Jobs

June 25, 2008

Pharmaceutical Executive

Volume 0, Issue 0

Merck bolsters vaccine making division with the addition of 400 new employees to fill its new manufacturing plant.

With all the talk about layoffs and restructuring, one pharma company announced some positive news for scientists looking for jobs. Last week, Merck revealed plans for a third phase of expansion of its new vaccine plant in Durham, NC. The company began building the new facility in 2004, and announced an expansion to the project in 2006 while it was still under construction. When the projects are complete, Merck will staff another 400 new employees in its scientific branches. The initial sterile filling facility will also require a wide range of positions from entry level up.

"It's a project that has grown very quickly for us in the Durham area because our vaccine business is going very well, and we are working on making additional capacity," said Agnes Speight, public affairs manger for Merck's North Carolina division.

This is a brand new plant in the Research Triangle, and it is being established to relieve some of the pressure on the company's West Point, PA, vaccine plant, which is currently out of space for expansion.

"We looked at several different locations, and what made us settle on Durham was all of the great workforce development that is being done with Durham Technical Community College and the all the other universities there--that was the deciding factor," said Speight. All three phases of the Durham construction are expected to be complete by 2011.

Merck has been developing vaccines for some time, but in the last few years that its vaccine business has grown significantly. The company will be manufacturing childhood vaccines (for measles, mumps, and rubella), as well as Veravax for chicken pox, and Zostavax, a new vaccine for shingles in adults.