Merck & Co. Will Save 200 Puerto Rican Jobs as Buyer Emerges

Published: Apr 10, 2015

Merck & Co. Will Save 200 Puerto Rican Jobs as Buyer Emerges
April 10, 2015
By Krystle Vermes, Breaking News Staff

The Puerto Rico Industrial Development Company confirmed on April 9 that Merck had reached an agreement with the American Industrial Acquisition Corporation to sell a manufacturing facility in Arecibo that was under closing plans. The AIAC will keep 200 Merck employees at the Arecibo manufacturing facility.

“This transaction represents a major achievement, not only for Merck, but also for PRIDCO and for Puerto Rico,” said Antonio Medina, PRIDCO executive director. “Upon completion of the transaction, Puerto Rico will retain the operation of Merck’s second site that was under closing plans, now with a different owner, protecting the jobs and manufacturing operations in the area. This reaffirms the island capabilities to attract renewed industrial investment.”

Under the agreement, the facility will continue to supply certain products to Merck. However, some of these products will eventually consolidate to Merck’s Las Pierdas manufacturing facility. Others will go to a third-party contract manufacturer. Merck and PRIDCO would not comment on this report.

Merck & Co., headquartered in New Jersey, is one of the largest biopharmaceutical companies in the world. Recently, the company made headlines when the U.S. Food and Drug Administration granted Breakthrough Therapy designations to grazoprevir/elbasvir for the treatment of chronic hepatitis C infection. Analysts were pleased with the news, but noted that the hepatitis C treatment market is quickly becoming crowded.

The Expansion to Puerto Rico
As Merck alters its Puerto Rico operations, other companies are also attempting to capitalize on the potential of the U.S. territory. AbbVie, the Chicago-based biopharmaceutical research company, announced on March 18 that it would be adding 100 new jobs to its operations in Puerto Rico. The move, which will take place over the course of two years, is a part of a $30 million expansion.

“AbbVie will specifically look to expand upon its operations in Barceloneta,” said Alejandro Garcia Padilla, governor of Puerto Rico. “The company had been working closely with the Puerto Rico Industrial Development Company to help promote the expansion. In turn, it has been able to move forward with its plans for job creation.”

Currently, AbbVie has three manufacturing plants in Puerto Rico, which has created more than 1,000 jobs.

Recently, the company made headlines when it announced on April 1 that the European Commission had granted marketing authorization for Humira for the treatment of severe chronic plaque psoriasis in children and adolescents.

AbbVie was initially formed in 2013 when it was separated from Abbott Laboratories. The company employs more than 26,000 people around the world.

BioSpace Temperature Poll
After last week's news that Gilead had issued a health advisory to doctors, concern is growing after nine patients taking Harvoni or Sovaldi along with another drug, amiodarone, were treated for abnormally slow heartbeats. One of the patients died of cardiac arrest. Three of the nine patients required a pacemaker. That has BioSpace asking, what next?

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