Merck (NYSE:MRK) has announced plans to construct a new manufacturing facility in North Carolina to expand the production capacity of TICE®BCG, which is a bladder cancer treatment.

Merck to construct BCG manufacturing facility in North Carolina

For years the company was the main producer of the difficult to make oncology med, but its limited capacity hamstrung its efforts of getting the medicine to patients. This has necessitated expanding its capacity to cater to the high demand globally that has outpaced its production capabilities. After completion of the new facility’s construction, the company will be able to triple its manufacturing capacity to support TICE® BCG demand in the foreseeable future.

The investment reaffirms the company’s longstanding commitment to producing this medicine for patients that need it. Merck indicated that the new facility will create around 100 local jobs in a company release and it will be completed in six years. After completion and following regulatory approvals and reviews, TICE®BCG supplies will increase significantly.

Merck is the sole producer of BCG

BCG is difficult to manufacture the drug, and Merck became the med globally’s main manufacturer in 2012 after Sanofi stopped production citing production problems. The drug has a complicated manufacturing process that can take up to 3 months, and as a result, it has been a big challenge to manufacturers. Of the three months, one month is for the growth of the bacterial culture used in the manufacture of the drug. Manufacturers continue to experience this challenge even as demand for TICE® BCG continues to grow globally and puts more strain on Merck’s supply chain.

Merck’s executive VP and chief patient officer, Julie Gerberding, said that although the facility’s construction will take years to finalize, they are nonetheless looking forward to the day they will meet the demand for patients that need TICE® BCG. In March last year, the company restricted BCG shipments across the globe based on past ordering averages. As of 2019, the company had almost doubled BCG production and reduced manufacturing time by 40%.