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Corning, Merck, Pfizer to invest $4B, create 4,000 new US jobs

July 21, 2017

Corning (GLWannounced at President Trump’s “Made in America” event yesterday that the company planned to create 1,000 new high-tech jobs in the U.S. The deal is a collaboration with Pfizer (PFE) and Merck & Co. (MRK), and will initially invest $500 million in the project.

“So we’ve been involved in a collaboration with Merck and Pfizer for a number of years to dramatically improve pharmaceutical packaging,” Corning’s president and chief executive officer, Wendell Weekstold CNBC outside the White House. “And what we’ve invented is a product called Valor Glass, and it’s a substantial improvement in quality and in manufacturing throughput. What it does is make patients safer and helps improve pharmaceutical manufacturing. So, what we’re announcing is we’re investing immediately half a billion dollars in creating 1,000 new American jobs. This is just part one in a plan to invest $4 billion and create 4,000 high-tech jobs right here in the U.S.”

The White House Office of American Innovation encouraged the initiative. President Trump, in a statement, said, “My administration is committed to streamlining the regulatory process so that it’s easier for companies to invest and innovate here in America.”

CNBC asked Weeks if the product would have been manufactured outside the U.S. if the government hadn’t been involved. He responded, “We probably would have taken a little more balanced approach.”

There were no incentives, such as tax breaks, from the federal government, to induce Corning to make the glass in the U.S. Weeks indicated that the Trump administration helped to streamline the process. “You can’t reindustrialize a major industry like this without touching the government at every level,” he told CNBC. “We need our product to be approved by the FDA. We need our process to be approved by the EPA. Then we need to work with governance both at states and international and national to make sure we are globally competitive and that’s the help that the Office of American Innovation brought to us.”

Corning Valor Glass packaging, according to the company, was developed through “deep pharmaceutical formulation and manufacturing process insights from Merck and Pfizer, in combination with Corning’s glass science and precision forming capabilities.” It reportedly has “superior chemical durability, strength and damage resistance.” It will be used as packaging for the vials and cartridges used for injectable drugs.

The product requires a new manufacturing platform, which the companies plan to build in the U.S. Weeks said in a statement, “All of this is made possible by our great customers like Merck and Pfizer and the strong support of the Administration, the Office of American Innovation, and the FDA’s Emerging Technology Team. We believe this is great news for patients, for the industry, and for the economy.”

Kenneth Frazier, Merck’s chairman and chief executive officer, said in a statement, “Merck is proud to have participated from its inception in the development of Valor Glass with Corning. Biologics today are on the leading edge of scientific innovation, and Valor Glass represents a similar advancement in materials science: glass that is purpose-built for medicines and vaccines. Merck plans to convert several injectable products to this exceptional new glass packaging solution, pending appropriate regulatory approvals.”

At this time, Corning hasn’t decided where in the U.S. the manufacturing facility will be located, although in the “U.S. southeast” is what Elizabeth Dann, a Corning Spokeswoman told Fortune. The glass will also be manufactured at existing manufacturing plants in New Jersey and New York.

Corning declined to provide a time frame for the creation of the 4,000 jobs.

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