Both Sanofi-Aventis and Merck KGaA have announced plans to invest in new drug research centres in North America.

First up, Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines division of the French drugmaker, said that it is investing C$100 million ($99.8 million) in a state-of-the-art facility at the company’s Connaught Campus in north Toronto, Canada. The Government of Ontario will contribute C$13.9 million to the project.

Sanofi has already invested over C$300 million since 2000 at the site, which according to Sanofi Pasteur’s chief executive Wayne Pisano, is “already recognised globally for the R&D and manufacture of the five-component acellular pertussis vaccine”. He added that global demand for new and existing
vaccines is anticipated to double by 2016.

Construction is scheduled to begin this year for completion in 2010. Research targets at the new site will include paediatric combination jabs, plus pneumococcal protein and cancer vaccines.

As for Merck, the Darmstadt, Germany-based firm said that its US affiliate EMD Serono intends to spend $50 million at its Billerica facility near Boston, Massachusetts, creating 100 new jobs. The investment involves the construction of a “centre of excellence” staffed by 200 scientists working on cancer and fertility treatments.

“This investment demonstrates the value of our US operations as a crucial component of the global organisation’s long-term success,” said Fereydoun Firouz, president of EMD Serono. He added that Merck is committed to growing our footprint in Massachusetts and the USA, noting that construction at the new site will begin early next year and be completed in 2010.