Merck’s ribbon-cutting in Rahway: Celebrating the past — while planning for future

Famed N.J. pharma company honors opening of reimagined HQ with promise to continue delivering on its mission to patients everywhere

The campus itself is beyond impressive: More than 100 buildings and more than 300,000 square feet of Class A research space stretched across more than 200 acres that sits in both Rahway and Linden.

It even has its own volunteer fire department.

But, what’s far more impressive about Merck’s global headquarters is the impact of the work that Merck has done here — and will continue to do here — moving forward.

On Tuesday, Merck Chairman and CEO Rob Davis joined Gov. Phil Murphy, state Senate President Nick Scutari (D-Clark) and a host of others to cut the ribbon on what they are calling the reimagined Merck headquarters.

It’s the formal return of the headquarters to the Rahway/Linden campus that has been the company’s on-again, off-again HQ for more than 100 years — but always an important location in the heart of New Jersey.

“I couldn’t be more pleased that now, for the first time in over 50 years, we’re bringing back together all of the different divisions and functions within Merck to one site,” Davis said.

“When you think of what it takes to ideate, to innovate, to invent — it takes collaboration, it takes teamwork, it takes all of us focused on what matters most, which is putting the patients at the center of everything we do and delivering with urgency on their behalf.

“And we’re now able to do that, again, as one unified Merck, at this facility.”

The Merck campus in Rahway and Linden.

Davis noted some of the biggest Merck discoveries of the past, including penicillin, cortisone and ivermectin.

Those discoveries are the benchmark moving forward, he said.

“While we’ve made great progress, what we do know is that we continue to face challenges, whether it’s heart disease, Alzheimer’s, cancer — the need is still there. And Merck is uniquely positioned to deliver against that need,” he said.

“And that’s why I’m so proud and humbled to be the leader of this organization as we start this next chapter, building on the legacy of those that have come before us, recognizing that their contributions have made a meaningful difference.”

Murphy, thrilled that one of the state’s landmark companies is doubling down on its presence in the Garden State, said the state wears Merck’s presence as a badge of honor.

Its impact is great in many ways, Murphy said.

“At one level, this is about economic development, making a statement, not just in words, but in action, about New Jersey as the state of the innovation economy,” he said. “That’s who we are.

“I think as a state, as a person, as an institution, you have to look in the mirror and be honest with yourself. And, when New Jersey looks in the mirror, we see bio, pharmaceuticals, life sciences. And Merck sits center stage in that vision, in that reality.”

Then there is Merck’s grand legacy, Murphy said.

“(Merck) is about keeping people healthy,” he said. “It’s about doing right, by society. Doing right, by the way, not just once or twice, but time and time again.

“Merck has answered the bell.”

The challenge, Davis said, is to continue to do so.

On a day when Merck cut the ribbon on its reimagined campus, Davis tried to describe what he imagined it will mean going forward. He did so with a nod to the company’s long list of great scientists and scientific discoveries.

He said the company has just as many leaders today.

“Merck will deliver on its purpose, will deliver on its mission, will deliver for the patients that are counting on us,” he said. “And, we will be standing here at some point, years down the road, talking about the contributions of this next generation of the diseases we fought, and the lives we saved. That is what this really is all about.”