Merck KGaA Acquires CDMO Exelead

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The agreeement will add to Merck KGaA’s LNP and mRNA capabilities.

Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, has agreed to acquire Exelead, a biopharmaceutical contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO), for approximately $780 million in cash, according to a Jan. 6, 2022 press release. Exelead specializes in complex injectable formulations, including lipid nanoparticle (LNP)-based drug delivery technology and fill/finish. Exelead’s headquarters and operations are located in Indianapolis.

“Novel modalities, particularly mRNA, present a highly attractive business opportunity as pharma and biotech pipelines are increasingly building on them beyond COVID-19. The acquisition of Exelead will further enable us to capture the significant potential of the fast-growing market for mRNA therapies by providing leading CDMO services to our customers,” said Belén Garijo, chair of the executive board and CEO of Merck KGaA, in the press release.

“Exelead’s capabilities and expertise will strengthen our CDMO mRNA offering. We are excited to work with Exelead’s experienced team. Together, we will provide our customers a unique and truly integrated offering across the mRNA manufacturing process. This will significantly decrease supply chain complexity and enhance speed-to-market to ultimately accelerate access to life-enhancing therapeutics for patients worldwide,” added Matthias Heinzel, member of the executive board of Merck KGaA and CEO Life Science, in the press release.


Merck intends to continue to invest in mRNA as a modality and will scale up this technology at Exelead’s existing site in Indianapolis, according to the press release. The transaction is expected to close in the first quarter of 2022 and is subject to regulatory clearances as well as the satisfaction of other customary closing conditions.

Source: Merck KGaA