Merck invests in China, conflict lingers in Turkey

Merck invests in China, conflict lingers in Turkey

ISTANBUL - Hürriyet Daily News
Merck invests in China, conflict lingers in Turkey

This file photo shows a view from of the Merck Pharmaceutical Company in Pennsylvania. The US pharmaceuticals firm plans to establish a research center in China. AFP

No. 2 American drug manufacturer Merck will establish new Asian Research and Development (R&D) headquarters in Beijing and commit $1.5 billion to R&D in China over the next five years, Reuters reported.

The firm will eventually employ 600 scientists at its facility, Merck Research Laboratories President Peter S. Kim told journalists yesterday in Beijing. Merck is the latest foreign pharmaceutical company to bolster its presence in China.

The statement comes as a conflict over drug prices between the Turkish government, drug manufacturers and pharmacies has been intensifying. Media reports have said patients were unable to find necessary drugs at pharmacies since many pharmacies were boycotting specific drugs because companies failed to compensate for a government decision that cut medicine prices dramatically.

“Merck is investing heavily in R&D in China, which is working very closely with the industry to ensure the right incentives and policies are in place to emerge as globally competitive in the biotechnology and research pharmaceutical sector,” said Jeff Kemprecos, director of public affairs at Merck, in response to questions from the Hürriyet Daily News.

According to Nezih Barut, head of Pharmaceutical Manufacturers Association of Turkey (IEIS), a total of 341 drugs cannot be found on shelves due to the conflict.

“We’re hopeful that at some point, the current contraction in the pharmaceutical sector and recurring crises will end, and we can establish a new platform for dialogue with policy-makers in Turkey,” Kemprecos said. “Turkey has the potential to develop as a new tiger in the sector, but investors require more predictability and would like to be included in the policy-making process.”

Kim said he sees “opportunities to include China in our worldwide clinical trials for our drugs and vaccines,” according to a Reuters report.

Aiming to take advantage of China’s lower costs and supply of scientists, drug manufacturers such as Pfizer, Abbott and Novartis have made big investments in Chinese R&D operations in recent years.