Monday, December 16, 2013

New Yorker Article on Merck

In the December 9, 2013 issue of the New Yorker there is an article entitled "The Big Sleep," by Ian Parker.  It is on Merck's research and development of a new sleep aid; the working name for it is suvorexant.  Merck's work to get the drug through the FDA is the focus of the article, along with a brief history of prescription sleep aids, such as Ambien.

I noted three interesting geographic mentions in the article:

For months, in rooms across Merck's archipelago of mismatched buildings north of Philadelphia, [David] Michelson had taken part in role-playing rehearsals for the F.D.A. meeting.

One reason this was such a priority:

The company was impatient.  A factory in Las Piedras, Puerto Rico, was ready to start production.

 As for the active ingredient, the aforementioned suvorexant, "Merck synthesizes it in Ireland, and ships it across the Atlantic in hundred-and-twenty-litre drums."

Given the large number of community colleges and universities in this area I don't quite understand why this area cannot provide the trained workforce this work would require.  Wouldn't it be easier to have everything, executives and scientists, and manufacturing in one general area?  While this medication, if approved, would be shipped all over the world, moved the main ingredient from Ireland to Puerto Rico sounds expensive and risky.  If it were all in one place there would be less opportunity for loss or damage.

There might be room for one or more manufacturing plants in several locations around the Philadelphia area.  It's too bad it can't all be done here.

[Blogger's note:  Big Bang Theory fans take note -- a retired medical professor named Dr. Daniel Kripke.]

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