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Wacker opens new manufacturing site for mRNA active ingredients

| By Mary Bailey

Wacker Chemie AG (Munich, Germany) has opened an mRNA competence center at its biotech site in Halle (Saale), Germany. The new facility enables the large-scale production of active ingredients based on messenger ribonucleic acid (mRNA), such as anti-Covid mRNA vaccines. Wacker invested more than 100 million euros in this construction project. More than 100 highly qualified jobs have already been created in Halle. Some of the new capacity will be made available to the German government as part of its pandemic-preparedness plan in order to rapidly supply Germany with vaccines as and when required.

The expansion of Wacker’s Halle site into an mRNA competence center enables the company to produce mRNA actives on a large scale going forward. Four new production lines have more than trebled the site’s capacity, some of which will be available to the German government as part of its pandemic-preparedness program. The remaining production capacity is for other customers. The first contracts in this regard have already been signed.

“The opening of our mRNA competence center in Halle is a milestone for Wacker. This is where we will be producing active ingredients for the medicines of tomorrow – not only for the German government, but for other customers too,” said Wacker CEO Christian Hartel during the opening ceremony. “Our expertise in making mRNA vaccines will contribute to the fight against future pandemics,” he added. What’s more, the CEO was impressed by the speed at which the competence center was built. “It has taken us just two years to build a high-tech production facility with an annual capacity of more than 200 million vaccine doses – an unrivaled achievement in this field, which demonstrates true German efficiency.”

“Medicine is making great strides thanks to mRNA technology, which isn’t just confined to vaccines. For instance, this technology gives us an opportunity to offer cancer patients targeted support going forward,” explained Melanie Käsmarker, managing director of Wacker Biotech. Wacker Biotech bundles the Wacker Group’s biopharmaceutical activities and manufactures active ingredients in Halle and at other sites for market and clinical trials conducted by pharmaceutical companies. “Based in Halle, we’ll be able to meet the globally rising demand for mRNA actives,” she added.

Biotechnology is a strategic growth field for Wacker. By 2030, Wacker Biosolutions plans to contribute around €1 billion to Group sales. The development of the Halle site into a competence center for mRNA will aid this strategy. The next milestone is expected to be reached this year when a new Biotechnology Center goes onstream in Munich. This year, the company expended its biotechnology capabilities with the acquisition of U.S.-based firm Bio Med Sciences, a biopharmaceuticals capacity expansion in California,  and the addition of lipid nanoparticle process capabilities in Halle.