GENEVA, November 12 /PRNewswire/ --

- Expansion of Site in Corsier-sur-Vevey, Switzerland, Will Permit the Manufacturing of Innovative Biologic Compounds for the Treatment of Debilitating Diseases With High Unmet Medical Needs

- EUR300 Million Investment Creating More Than 200 Qualified Jobs

GENEVA, November 12 /PRNewswire/ --

Merck Serono, the division for innovative pharmaceuticals of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, today held a cornerstone ceremony at the Merck Serono Biotech Center (MSBC), its production site in Corsier-sur-Vevey, Switzerland, to mark the expansion of the site. The expansion will enable the production of greater quantities of Erbitux(R) (cetuximab), in order to meet growing patient needs, as well as the production of potential future treatments in autoimmune and inflammatory diseases currently under clinical development. Erbitux, Merck Serono's monoclonal antibody for the targeted treatment of colorectal and head and neck cancers, is currently available in around 70 countries.

The expansion of the Merck Serono Biotech Center embodies our company's primary commitment to bringing therapeutic innovations to patients with serious unmet medical needs, said Elmar Schnee, General Partner and Member of the Executive Board of Merck KGaA and President of Merck Serono. This investment will cement our company's position as a leader in biotechnology, while contributing to the local economy with the creation of more than 200 new jobs, and its construction will create business opportunities for local companies.

Hanns-Eberhard Erle, Executive Vice President Technical Operations of Merck Serono added: This expansion underscores our commitment to excellence at all levels and will serve as a catalyst towards our goal of becoming a responsible world leader in providing specialist therapies. Through efficient manufacturing processes to scale up the production and the use of state-of-the-art technologies, the Merck Serono Biotech Center will continue to be one of the top centers of excellence for biotechnology in the world.

Two new dedicated production suites with 120,000 liters of bioreactor capacity, plus a state-of-the-art wastewater treatment station and a logistic center will be added to the existing facilities by the end of 2010. After inspection by worldwide health authorities, including the EMEA and Swissmedic, the production of Erbitux is expected to start at the MSBC in 2012.

Inaugurated in April 1999, the MSBC currently manufactures the active ingredient for Merck Serono's leading multiple sclerosis treatment Rebif(R) (interferon beta-1a) for the global market, as well as various therapeutic proteins for the ongoing clinical trials in development at Merck Serono. The two existing production suites are currently operated by 250 qualified employees including laboratory personnel, engineers and biologists. Merck Serono uses state-of-the-art technology and implements environmental management programs to reduce waste and energy consumption. Accordingly, the MSBC has been operating under ISO 14001:2004 certification, the international standard for environmental excellence, since 2005.

Powered by 25 production sites and 5,000 employees across four continents, Merck Serono today manufactures and distributes an extensive portfolio of biotechnological and pharmaceutical drugs including Rebif(R), Saizen(R), Serostim(R), Gonal-f(R), Glucophage(R), ConCor(R) and Euthyrox(R). In Switzerland, Merck Serono operates three sites in the Vaud Canton: Corsier-sur-Vevey (manufacturing of active ingredients), Aubonne (manufacturing of active ingredients, fill and finish, packaging) and Coinsins (packaging and logistics).

Photos available for the media:

Photos of the Merck Serono Biotech Center can be downloaded from the following website: User name: press Password: merckserono

Additional photos from the cornerstone ceremony can be downloaded from this same website on 12 November 2008, from 8.30 pm CET onward.

About Merck Serono

Merck Serono is the division for innovative prescription pharmaceuticals of Merck, a global pharmaceutical and chemical group. Headquartered in Geneva, Switzerland, Merck Serono discovers, develops, manufactures and markets innovative small molecules and biopharmaceuticals to help patients with unmet medical needs. Its North American business operates in the United States and Canada as EMD Serono.

Merck Serono has leading brands serving patients with cancer (Erbitux(R)), multiple sclerosis (Rebif(R)), infertility (Gonal-f(R)), endocrine and cardiometabolic disorders (Glucophage(R), Concor(R), Euthyrox(R), Saizen(R), Serostim(R)), as well as psoriasis (Raptiva(R)).

With an annual RD expenditure of around EUR 1bn, Merck Serono is committed to growing its business in specialist-focused therapeutic areas including neurodegenerative diseases, oncology, fertility and endocrinology, as well as new areas potentially arising out of research and development in autoimmune and inflammatory diseases.

About Merck

Merck is a global pharmaceutical and chemical company with total revenues of EUR 7.1 billion in 2007, a history that began in 1668, and a future shaped by 32,458 employees in 59 countries. Its success is characterized by innovations from entrepreneurial employees. Merck's operating activities come under the umbrella of Merck KGaA, in which the Merck family holds an approximately 70% interest and free shareholders own the remaining approximately 30%. In 1917 the U.S. subsidiary Merck Co. was expropriated and has been an independent company ever since.

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