SHANGHAI – Merck KGaA and Taiwan’s Development Center for Biotechnology announced Oct. 29 the opening of Merck’s Asian Technology and Training Center in Taiwan.
The center will provide technical services, application support and a user-training platform for Merck’s biopharmaceutical customers in Asia.
Germany-based Merck KGaA is working on this project with DCB, a non-profit organization supported primarily by Taiwan’s Department of Industrial Technology of the Ministry of Economic Affairs. The ATTC will be located in facilities provided by DCB in Xizhi City, Taiwan.
“ATTC will be our gateway to Asian markets,” Merck Taiwan Spokeswoman Wendy Chung told PharmAsia News. “Based on this hub we’ll be able to better serve our biopharmaceutical customers in the region.”
Phase one of ATTC will focus on providing consulting and training services for biotech customers and phase two will focus on processing materials for pharmaceutical and food production, Chung said.
Merck’s ATTC will support customers in the use of Merck’s bioprocess products in their process development and manufacturing programs.
“Under the agreement, DCB will provide the space, facilities, consultants and supplies for the ATTC,” DCB Spokesman Kenneth Wang told PharmAsia News. “More importantly, DCB has an experienced and talented bioprocessing team to support this effort on site.”
“Through this cooperation, in the future, the users of Merck’s large-scale protein purification technology for the separation and purification of drugs will come to Taiwan for training in the ATTC,” Wang added.
DCB is helping to shape and develop Taiwan’s biotech industry through R&D, infrastructure-building and training programs. It is currently focusing its R&D efforts on environmental biotechnology, herbal medicines, small molecule drugs and new formulations of existing drugs and biologics including monoclonal antibodies, recombinant proteins and vaccines.
The present therapeutic areas of focus are cancer, diabetes and infectious diseases.
“Merck can share with DCB its biotech R&D capabilities and resources from its well-established [U.S. FDA-compliant] biopharmaceutical cGMP pilot plant that offers a full spectrum of contract manufacturing and research services ranging from early-stage preclinical to Phase II trials,” Chung said.
Merck KGaA has technical training centers in Darmstadt, Germany and Gibbstown, New Jersey.
Chung said that Merck KGaA chose Taiwan to be the third location for its technical training centers for several reasons, including its geographically convenient location for accessing major Asian cities.
“The Taiwanese government is strongly committed to the biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries,” she said. “Taiwan can claim the title of being an Asian leader in biotechnology, which is also reflected in the availability of a high-quality educated work force.”
Taiwan’s commitment to protect intellectual property rights is very important for a creativity- based industry, she added. Taiwan gave its approval to the World Trade Organization’s Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights in April (PharmAsia News, April 3, 2008).
Taiwan’s Bureau of Pharmaceutical Affairs brought a large delegation to the Drug Information Association’s 2008 annual meeting to promote the country’s clinical trial environment (PharmAsia News, June 27, 2008).
“The passing of the Statute for the Development of Biotechnology New Drug Industry last year, in part through our effort, had greatly improved Taiwan’s overall biotech industrial environment as well,” DCB Chairman Shu-Ming Wu said.
“Merck KGaA considers Asia a strategic market for the future,” Chung said. “There are countries such as China, India and Japan, where we are far from having exploited our potential for organic growth.”
“Therefore, we intend to boost our investments in these countries in the coming years,” she added.
Merck KGaA recently announced plans to add 20 to 40 oncology medical reps in Japan following the market launch of colon cancer drug Erbitux (cetuximab) (PharmAsia News, Oct. 27, 2008).
According to DCB’s Wang, through this collaboration, Merck can leverage DCB’s expertise in the commercialization of R&D results to help build up Merck’s biopharmaceutical pipeline through ATTC customers.
“In return, Merck will share with DCB its cooperation model with customers and partner with DCB in its global R&D efforts,” Wang said.