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Scholz promises support for pharma sector in Germany as Merck invests

BERLIN (Reuters) - German Chancellor Olaf Scholz said he was committed to supporting the pharmaceuticals sector with tax advantages for research and cutting red tape for trials at a ceremony with Merck, which is investing 1.5 billion euros ($1.61 billion) in Germany.

The drugmaker plans to use its new life sciences Advanced Research Centre in the western city of Darmstadt, which it is spending 300 million euros on, to develop services and digital platforms to help scientists work more effectively.

With some 550 employees, it is part of the bigger investment announced in 2022.

Scholz said he wanted Germany to build on a 2.3 billion euro investment by Eli Lilly in the western town of Alzey and other development plans by Novo Nordisk, BioNTech, AbbVie and Roche for Europe's biggest economy.

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Following the success of BioNTech, which partnered with U.S. giant Pfizer on its mRNA COVID-19 vaccine, the government has sought to improve conditions for pharma and biotech sectors.

"I want .. the technologies that are needed all over the world to continue to be developed here," Scholz said, adding: "The government will continue to support this new departure with all its strength."

He said recent new policies would help researchers to get access to health data and speed up clinical trials.

($1 = 0.9325 euros)

(Reporting by Andreas Rinke; Writing by Madeline Chambers; Editing by Rachel More)