Merck Opens Drug Development Center in Shanghai

15.07.2020 - Under the name M Lab, Germany’s Merck has opened a new collaborative drug development center in Pudong, Shanghai, China. The facility with lab space of around 10,000 m2 is the largest of the pharmaceutical, chemicals and life science group’s nine such centers worldwide and is located in the heart of Shanghai’s biomedical sciences and research community.

Merck’s concept provides what it says are customizable solutions to help advance drug development, including pilot scale and process development support labs that offer non-GMP space. In the labs, customers can explore ideas, learn innovative techniques and work side-by-side with the German company’s scientists and engineers on problem solving and also participate in hands-on training, formal bioprocessing educational courses and experiments.

One of the focuses of the Shanghai center is on lab management software, with a digital platform that improves efficiency and processes by automating workflows and connecting lab instruments via the cloud.

Also part of the center is a customized cell culture media facility designed to develop cell culture media that can be used to produce biopharmaceuticals and for non-GMP pilot production.

Separately, a solid dose formulation facility is available to test whether drugs in tablet, capsule or powder form contain high quality excipients and active pharmaceutical ingredients.  (APIs), while a new end-to-end solutionsGMP manufacturing facility will be able to offer CDMO services to Merck’s customers in China and Asia Pacific.

With development of vaccines for Covid-19 moving forward at record speeds, vaccine makers are increasingly looking for CDMOs that have the capability to quickly provide the needed manufacturing capability. Merck’s manufacturing services outfit could take in billions of dollars in revenue through assisting certain players with scale-up, Jefferies analyst Brandon Couillard said in a note to clients. 

The German company is currently working with more than 200 groups developing COVID-19 vaccines and drugs, including the UK’s Oxford University and Baylor University and Oxford University in the US state of Texas. Couillard said his team quantifies the overall market opportunity for Covid products at roughly $4-5 billion.