We have been following this story for about a year now, as Merck ramps up vaccine capacity in the non-union Durham, NC facility, and inexorably phases lines out of its West Point, Pennsylvania (union) shop.
Here is the latest, from a local NC paper (via a H/T to Ed, at Pharmalot):
. . . .By the end of 2012, plant manager John Wagner said, the company could invest upwards of $900 million total, adding equipment upgrades and a new 40,000-square-foot building for quality control laboratories projected to cost $30 million.
The company also plans to hire 310 people in the next two years, 250 of whom would be hired by the end of 2011. About 50 to 60 of the new hires will work in the quality control laboratories. . . .
Merck is currently awaiting approval from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration to transfer Varivax, the chickenpox vaccine, for production at the Durham site.
"Over the next four years, we'll be doing more product transfers," Wagner said. . . .
By 2012, Wagner said, the plant should be completed and operational and have up to 700 workers, manufacturing vaccines for measles, mumps, rubella and chickenpox in children, as well as a vaccine for shingles in older adults. . . .
So while this is good news in North Carolina -- these are times of darkening skies in Pennsylvania. As much as I regret to say so -- it is true -- West Point, Pennsylvania vaccine employees will have to take note, and make other plans.