from the December 2007 issue

Merck to start Israeli R&D

Merck an international developer, manufacturer and distributor of pharmaceuticals. is starting drug development and commercialization operations in Israel. The company avail itself of the chief scientist's program for international cooperation between Israeli firms and multinational companies.

Under the agreement, Merck Serono, the company's new division for innovative small molecules and biopharmaceuticals, will cooperate with Israeli startups in developing pharamceuticals, and will later be able to buy the rights to the drugs or help market them around the world.

The Industry and Trade Ministry will finance half of the research and development costs of these companies, through its Chief Scientist's Office. Teva has had almost exclusive access to Israeli biotechnology and pharmaceutical research, since international firms have kept away. Now, with Merck and Pfizer on the way, Teva will lose its exclusivity and face real competition here for the first time. As for Serono, this is a real U-turn. Rebif is based on technology from the Weizmann Institute, and was produced by Interpharm in Rehovot. But Serono almost completely closed down Interpharm and moved production to Europe. Ironically, it will now find itself back in Israel.

Reprinted from the Israel High-Tech & Investment Report December 2007

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