Merck will sell its Diosynth biotechnology manufacturing plant with more than 300 employees in Morrisville to Fujifilm Holdings of Japan, the companies announced Sunday night.
Diosynth is known as a contract manufacturing organization, and its Morrisville facility makes products for pharmaceutical and biotech companies in the United States, Europe and Japan.
Merck acquired the Diosynth division in 2009 when it bought rival Schering-Plough. Last year, Merck combined Diosynth with another biotech manufacturing facility in Billingham, England, to form the Merck BioManufacturing Network.
Fujifilm agreed to buy those assets, including both biotech manufacturing plants. Financial terms of the deal, which is expected to close in April, were not disclosed.
Fujifilm, the maker of digital cameras and equipment for medical scans, is expanding into drug development. The company is expected to keep Diosynth's existing workforce in the deal.
Merck, meanwhile, is trying to unload some assets to focus on fast-growing parts of its business, including vaccines. The New Jersey-based company continues to hire at its massive vaccine-manufacturing campus in Durham. Officials expect to add 150 workers there this year, after hiring 230 people in 2010.
The Morrisville facility employs about 450 and is preparing to package and eventually grow vaccines to protect against chicken pox and other diseases.
Construction on several buildings is expected to finish in 2012, and officials anticipate the factory will win full regulatory approval in 2013.
Read more about Merck's vaccine plant in Durham here.
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