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Merck To Build $300 Million Biotechnology Facility In Puerto Rico

Local Pharmaceutical Plants Produce Four Of The Company’s Top Five Products


April 10, 2003
Copyright © 2003 CARIBBEAN BUSINESS. All Rights Reserved.

Merck Sharpe & Dohme will expand its operation on the island by constructing a $300 million biotechnology plant, CARIBBEAN BUSINESS has learned.

As of press time, it could not be confirmed whether the plant would be built in Arecibo or Barceloneta, where Merck currently has facilities, or at a different site.

Merck Sharpe & Dohme Quimica de P.R. produces four of Merck’s five best-selling products. Zocor, Merck’s cholesterol-modifying medicine, continued its solid performance, with worldwide sales of $5.6 billion in 2002, 6% higher than in 2001. Global sales of Fosamax for 2002 were $2.2 billion, 38% higher than in 2001.

Full-year global sales of Cozaar and Hyzaar, which remain the most prescribed treatment for hypertension in the world, were $2.2 billion, a 21% increase over 2001. Sales of Singulair, the most prescribed asthma controller in the U.S., with more than 40 million prescriptions dispensed to patients, rose 19% from 2001 to $1.5 billion last year.

Vioxx is also produced in Puerto Rico, under a contract manufacturing agreement with a local pharmaceutical manufacturer. With $2.5 billion sales in 2002, an 8% gain over sales in 2001, the once-a-day coxib is the most prescribed arthritis pain medication in many world markets, including Europe, Canada, and Latin America.

Merck’s project becomes the fourth biotechnology venture announced in Puerto Rico in the past two years. The first was the $800 million expansion of Amgen’s biotechnology facility in Juncos, which will add 600 new jobs to its 430-employee work force by 2005. When the project is finished, the biotechnology plant will occupy 500,000 square feet.

In 2001, Eli Lilly & Co. announced the construction of a new $450 million biotechnology plant in Carolina. The company will add 450 new jobs to the labor force of 900 when the project is completed and will initially produce Humalog, a drug launched in 1996 for the treatment of diabetes.

Abbott Laboratories also confirmed the construction of a $350 million, 310,000-square-foot plant next to the Abbott subsidiaries in Barceloneta. Approximately 800 new jobs will be created and the company expects to receive U.S. Food & Drug Administration validation by 2006 with a work force of 200.

This Caribbean Business article appears courtesy of Casiano Communications.
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