Merck has announced it is to acquire the contract manufacturing biologics business of the Avecia group through its affiliate Merck Sharp & Dohme.

The move, of which financial details have not been disclosed, reflects Merck’s strategy to continue to expand its biopharmaceutical expertise and manufacturing capacity.

Said John T McCubbins, senior vice president, Biologics and Therapeutic Protein Operations, Merck Manufacturing Division: "This transaction follows an initial strategic development and supply relationship with Avecia Biologics and will provide us with an operational facility staffed by an experienced workforce that is highly skilled in a broad portfolio of bioprocess systems."

Under the terms of the agreement, Merck will acquire all assets of Avecia Biologics Limited, including all the company's process development and scale-up, manufacturing, quality and business support operations located in Billingham, UK. In addition to honoring all Avecia Biologics contractual commitments, Merck plans to engage in discussions with individual customers relating to their specific ongoing and future biological process development and manufacturing needs after the transaction is closed.

Closing of the transaction is subject to regulatory approval, as well as other customary closing conditions. The Oligomedicines Business of the Avecia group based in the United States does not form part of this transaction. _