Merck: Tapping into Ireland’s Resources to Seek Out New Opportunities in Biologics




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Video title: Merck: Tapping into Ireland’s Resources to Seek Out New Opportunities in Biologics
Released on: July 22, 2008. © PharmaVentures Ltd
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In this regional report, Fintan Walton speaks with Dan Hoey, General Manager of Merck, Sharp & Dohme in Ireland. Merck has had a presence in Ireland for over thirty years and has just recently announced plans to invest €200 million in a new vaccines and biologics facility in Carlow, which will be Ireland’s first stand-alone human vaccine project. Mr. Hoey finds many benefits for doing business in Ireland including the country’s reputation for technical excellence, technical capability, and proven track record in operations. He also praises the work of the IDA in assisting companies in deciding where to locate and in their abilities to make the case for Ireland with the corporate leaders of large multi-national companies. The cluster effect of other core industries located in Ireland also assists manufacturers locating here as managers are able to share best manufacturing processes and best management practices and because the geography is small, they are able to do that effectively. Merck looks forward to future investment in Ireland that will continue to invest in education in the country, to ensure that they will always have a good base of technical expertise.
Merck presence in Ireland.
Fintan Walton :
Hello and welcome to the Regional Report here in Dublin, Ireland. On this show I have Dan Hoey , General Manager of Merck Sharp & Dohme here in Ireland. Welcome to the show Dan Hoey .
Dan Hoey :
Thanks. Pleasure to be here.
Fintan Walton :
Merck Sharp & Dohme is a huge company with significant presence all around the globe.
Dan Hoey :
It's correct Fintan.
Fintan Walton :
What's the Merck Sharp & Dohmedoing here in Ireland?
Dan Hoey :
Well Merck Sharp & Dohme was established in Ireland in 1976 with an active ingredient manufacturing plant. And then in 2004 expanded in an institute of global human health subsidiary here doing sales and marketing in clinical trials management and then we had two big expansions in the last two years, one for doing the solid dosage manufacturing in the API plant in Ballydine. And then just recently major announcement to install a vaccine manufacturing facility in Carlow.
The signficant role of IDA and benefits for doing business in Ireland.
Fintan Walton :
Now one of the key things here obviously is thatMerck has its manufacturing operations so it's the most significant part, we could talk a little bit about the clinical"
Dan Hoey :
Yeah.
Fintan Walton :
And sales and marketing side as well. But in terms of location, I want to claim to Merck making decisions, obviously decisions at the very early stage for 30-years ago may be beyond remit of this discussion, but why has Merckcontinued to have a presence here in Ireland and what is it about Ireland that makesMerckwanting to stay here and expand?
Dan Hoey :
Yeah. Well there is actually been three kind of major announcements, the first was announcing Ballydine as a commercialization site, a site for doing new product introductions and the second was to do solid dosage manufacturing in Ballydine and then " and then vaccines in Carlow. And the real reason is " I think the core of it just kind of technical excellence and kind of technical capability improving track record of the operations here.
Fintan Walton :
So it's the skill set environment the support that you get from the -- an IDA and so forth?
Dan Hoey :
Well, yeah the IDA has always been valuable in getting those new investments in and, and in assisting the company and deciding where to locate, and to help us decide how to do those investments.
Fintan Walton :
So, so when people talk about the IDA you know helping them do the things, I mean, specifically what things do they offer you?
Dan Hoey :
Well there is " there is granted system of course, but also making the case for Ireland they are very good and very professional organization in making the case for Ireland and so that's I believe they would say there, there raise on that is to make the case for Ireland to the corporate headquarters and so as we have the people that are involved in making those decisions over primarily from the states.
Fintan Walton :
Right. So they're largely facilitators, they make think happen for organizations like you, on a practical, on a practical level?
Dan Hoey :
Very yeah.
Fintan Walton :
So that practical level could include using the grants, getting access to funding, providing capital for certain parts of the infrastructure?
Dan Hoey :
And making sure we have connections with the educational institutions, and research alliances, and trade groups and making sure that happens and facilitating that kind of entry especially for Greenfield site they will make sure that everything you need to get established the Greenfield site happens to.
Fintan Walton :
So it's infrastructure support effectively and operational support that makes it attractive?
Dan Hoey :
Absolutely.
Investment in human vaccine project.
Fintan Walton :
The other key thing here inIreland, I mean clearly pharmaceutical manufacturing is one of the things that Irelandhas been successful in. You mentioned this new facility in Carlow, which is a significant investment for Merck not just simply in the plant and machinery and the processing and so forth but also its future business, its vaccines business is an integral part of its overall growth strategy?
Dan Hoey :
Absolutely. Vaccines are big growth part of the company for Merck. And it's " this is one of the big forays outside the US for vaccine manufacturing. So it was a significant decision to site this outside of the US.
Fintan Walton :
So it was " it you know it's a risk decision in the end".
Dan Hoey :
Yeah.
Fintan Walton :
And when a company like Merck is making a risk decision it is making decisions about to use " to use Ireland as a way of presumably mitigating that risk, is that correct?
Dan Hoey :
Absolutely. And one of the big risks that you want to mitigate against is regulatory and you want to make sure that you have assurance of having good regulatory inspections and can license that facility properly from the beginning to do that right for first time and so citing that in Ireland is you having that regulatory experiences is this key to citing it here.
Fintan Walton :
So the regulatory issues, you want to overcome those but also speed to[ph] market getting the plant up and running, does Irelandoffer that as environment?
Dan Hoey :
And one of the biggest advantages is again technical excellence and the kind of core of that is education system. So that's not " there is many of their level institutions here that provide good third level graduates.
Cluster effects of other core industries located in Ireland.
Fintan Walton :
Right. And as a multinational organization operating here and you've got those responsibilities, you have other pharmaceutical companies, does the -- in addition to Merck does the cluster effect here in Ireland help your operations?
Dan Hoey :
I think so. I serve on the Pharmachemical Ireland council and I get great benefit and Blanket[ph] gets great benefit from having in association with other big pharma companies. And well we compete for market and products, we don't necessarily compete on a manufacturing basis and so we were able to share manufacturing practices and kind of best management practices. And because the geography is small we are able to do that pretty effectively. And so in my experience it's been a tremendous kind of benefit to have.
Fintan Walton :
It's creating that knowledge base, the common knowledge base"..
Dan Hoey :
Sure.
Fintan Walton :
Is very important. Again those are " those are issues that help to smooth the way"
Dan Hoey :
Yeah.
Fintan Walton :
To achieving objectives. When Ireland, obviously Ireland is part of the EU was the factor Irelandwas part of the EU an important factor?
Dan Hoey :
It was actually in setting vaccine manufacturing here and having a base in Europe was a key part of that decision specially again for the regulatory aspects of having the base of operation and being able to, to get involve with the M&A.
Future investment in Ireland.
Fintan Walton :
Right. And as Merck moves itself more from a small molecule,chemical base company more into the biologics side, do you see Ireland as a continued operation for developing that biologics side, presumably through the vaccines you already are doing there?
Dan Hoey :
Absolutely. And I see continued growth in the small molecules as well in Ballydine and temporarily we do small molecule where the site for new product introduction is there. And you are right, the kind of future of the business is large molecule and vaccines and now with the base in Carlow that's going to give us a great platform for continued growth there.
Fintan Walton :
And you know, if I was a representing a major pharmaceutical company or even a biotech company was considering using Ireland as a manufacturing base what would you recommend me to say to them?
Dan Hoey :
Well, I mean the kind of the core of what you want to do is protect risk and you want to make sure that you have success from a quality stand point and that your " the people that you hire are gonna be the kind of have the kind of type of capability you want and so the education system here and making sure that we invest in that in the future that will allow us to continue to have good quality technical people that can, that can be responsible for running the plant.
Fintan Walton :
Well thanks a lot Dan Hoey , for coming on the show. Thank you very much indeed.
Dan Hoey :
Thank you.
Dan Hoey
General Manager
Dan Hoey is currently working as General manager at Merck Sharp&DohmeIreland has a wide experience in pharmaceutical and biotechnology sector and vast knowledge about the Ireland's capability in providing the support of the growth of the pharma industry in the country.
Merck Sharp&Dohme
Merck Sharp&Dohme has had a presence in Ireland for over thirty years since it first started operations in Ballydine where it now employs more than 350 people. It is a large-scale plant producing active pharmaceutical ingredients for use in pharmaceutical manufacturing by Merck & Co Inc subsidiaries throughout the world. In September 2007, construction began on a Formulation R&D and Manufacturing Facility located on the existing site. Recently they have announced plans to build a stand-alone human vaccine facility in Carlow"their third facility in the country"and to expand their R&D facilities in Ballydine. The plant itself will be Ireland's first stand-alone human vaccine project, and will involve a formulation and sterile filling facilities alongside R&D operations to support recently launched vaccines and future projects.