Merck & Co has announced the opening of a pharmaceutical manufacturing facility in Hangzhou, China.

The facility, which is located in the Hangzhou Economic and Technology Area, will package medicines for China and the Asia Pacific region and the company said it will become "a critical part of Merck's global supply chain". The firm has spent nearly $120 million on the plant, a move which it says deepens its presence in China.

Merck has an R&D centre in Beijing, three manufacturing facilities throughout the country, a marketing and sales organisation headquartered in Shanghai and employs more than 5000 employees in China. It committed to invest more than $1.5 billion in R&D in the country over the next five years.

Pam Cheng, president of Merck in China, said that with the country's "fast economic growth, rise in living standards, changing lifestyles, industrialisation, urbanisation and an aging population, more people across the country need quality health care and access to a strong medical system".