Merck's Durham facility receives FDA approval to manufacture bulk varicella

Merck, a global healthcare company, recently announced that its Durham, North Carolina-based facility received U.S. Food and Drug Administration approval to manufacture bulk varicella for use in vaccines against shingles and chickenpox.

In 2010, the Durham site received approval to produce finished chickenpox vaccines. The approval will allow for the site to produce bulk varicella supply for the U.S. and increase Merck's overall supply capabilities.

"The licensure of the Durham varicella bulk facility marks a significant milestone for Merck and adds additional manufacturing capabilities to an already strong Merck vaccine network," Willie Deese, the president of Merck's manufacturing division, said. "The Durham facility will help us meet the increasing global demand for our quality vaccines that enhance health care for millions around the world."

Prior to the licensure, all global bulk supplies for Merck's vaccines with varicella were produced at the company's West Point, Pa. facility. Going forward, Merck plans to produce bulk and finished product for the shingles vaccine and other childhood vaccines at the Durham facility.

"Producing more of our chickenpox and shingles vaccines means we can help protect more children and adults against these diseases," Julie Gerberding, the president of Merck Vaccines, said. "This is an important step forward in our long-term strategy to reach more and more people around the world with Merck's vaccines."

Merck broke ground for the Durham facility in 2004 and dedicated the facility in 2008 in the memory of the late Maurice Hilleman, one of Merck's most distinguished vaccine researchers.