from the December 2008 issue

Merck- Our top three products have Israeli roots

The German company is involved with Israeli academic institutions and start-ups. Gali Weinreb27 Nov 08 18:41

"Our three lead products have Israeli roots," declared Dr. Karl-Ludwig Kley, chairman of German pharmaceutical company Merck KGaA (XETRA: MRK), at the annual Chief Scientist R&D conference.

Kley continued, "Rebif, our main product, originated in the Weizmann Institute. It was developed by a company jointly owned by the Institute and Serono, which was later acquired by us. Gonal-F. It enabled us to take the lead in the infertility market and is based on research conducted at Tel Hashomer. Erbitux, which is owned and marketed by ImClone, also owes part of its technology to the scientists at the Weizmann Institute. We are the international company that has paid the most royalties to Israeli scientists."

Merck continues to operate Interpharm, the company it jointly owns with the Weizmann Institute, as its R&D facility in Israel, although Serono closed its main plant in Israel even before it was sold to Merck.

These three products have played their part in taking Merck to a market cap of $15 billion, so it is hardly any wonder that Kley enthuses about Israeli talent and is keen to expand his company's collaborations, of which one example is the agreement it signed with the Chief Scientist in 2007. Noting it was now a year since the signing of the agreement, Kley said that Merck was supporting five groups of scientists at the Weizmann Institute, as well collaborating with the Technion Israel Institute of Technology on cellular technology and with the Hebrew University of Jerusalem on nanomaterials. The company is also looking at 50 biomedical start-ups.

Reprinted from the Israel High-Tech & Investment Report December 2008

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