Merck Building $300M Merck factory in Raleigh, N.C.

Aug. 23--DURHAM -- Merck's troubles with the pain pill Vioxx are having no effect on the $300 million vaccine factory the New Jersey drug maker is building north of Durham.

About a year after site preparation began, the walls are up and the roof is on the plant, where the company hopes to begin producing children's vaccines by 2009.

"Everything is going well" with the construction, spokeswoman Agnes Speight said.

Merck plans to finish construction in 2007, but the company expects it will take another two years to get Food and Drug Administration approval.

The 250,000-square-foot plant, being built at Treyburn Corporate Park, will consist of a cluster of manufacturing buildings, administrative offices and a warehouse. About 200 employees will work on the 256-acre campus.

To stay on schedule, Merck assembled the plant from prefabricated parts, Speight said. About 100 pieces were shipped to the Port of Wilmington and trucked to the site, where workers fit and anchored the pieces like Lego blocks.

The state gave Merck $39.4 million in economic development incentives to build the plant in the Triangle. The company used a portion of the money to buy the land, part of which was set aside for expansions.

© 2005 The News & Observer, Raleigh, N.C.