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UK Gov backs GSK-led manufacturing project citing "British prowess"

By Gareth MacDonald+

06-Mar-2014
Last updated the 06-Mar-2014 at 16:58 GMT

A GSK-led consortium will develop manufacturing technologies in a Government-backed scheme intended to safeguard the UK drug production sector.

This week the UK drug major was named as one of 22 organisations that had contributed to a £11m ($18m) fund that, combined with a £12m Government grant, will support the development of improved drug production and materials sourcing methods.

Kalpesh Joshi told in-Pharmatechnologist.com that: “The idea behind this is that the total funding will be ring-fenced for specific projects. These include the development of continuous manufacturing techniques and bespoke end to end supply chains. 

Partners will lend their respective expertise in order to develop solutions to common challenges faced in the medicines manufacturing area.”

Government backing

The £12m Government contribution comes from the Department of Business, Innovation and Skills’ (BIS) Advanced Manufacturing Supply Chain Initiative (AMSCI), which is a £250m fund designed to support “British manufacturing prowess.”

According to BIS the GSK-led project has the aim of “transforming the way the UK life sciences sector manufactures medicines” with an emphasis on personalised treatments and matching production to patient needs.

Joshi told us that: “it remains to be seen how we will deploy any of the AMSCI projects that we are collaborating with our partners on.”

But while the specifics are still to be worked out Joshi did cite work on continuous manufacturing done at the GSK’s facility in Singapore – where new technologies have been used to reduce the size of the plant – as an example of the type of project being considered.

This interest in continuous manufacturing fits with what GSK CEO Andrew Witty said last year during the firm’s full year earnings call.

UK jobs 

BIS said that the immediate impact of the funding will be to create 70 new jobs across the consortium and safeguard 307 more.

The Department also said the project has the “potential for licensing the process overseas” suggesting that GSK and its consortium partners will be allowed to employ technologies developed under the project to operations outside the UK, however, further details were not provided. 

in-Pharmatechnologist.com asked why subject projects should be supported by public funds but the department had not responded at the time of publication.

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