Asian innovation: Big Pharma’s push to modernise manufacturing

By Flora Southey contact

- Last updated on GMT

iStock/Delpixart
iStock/Delpixart
Pfizer, Merck & Co (known as MSD outside of North America) and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) have come together to support the development of continuous manufacturing and bio-catalysis technologies in Singapore. 

The firms have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) agreement – titled the Pharma Innovation Programme Singapore (PIPS) – initiated by Singapore’s Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) and the National University of Singapore (NUS).

The PIPS agreement focuses on investigating the development of continuous manufacturing to improve productivity and quality of active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs), and bio-catalysis technologies for the sustainable manufacturing processes of chemicals.

The agreement also covers the need for development in process analytical technology and a digitalised end to end supply chain.

A*STAR’s Lim Chuan Poh said the initiative was created to drive innovation.

“It is imperative that we take proactive steps to transform the industry and drive adoption of innovative technologies today which meet tomorrow’s demands,” ​he said.

“Along the way, we must remain flexible to changing industry dynamics and the evolving needs of customers and end-users,” ​he added.

Efficiency boost

GSK’s Lim Hock Heng said the initiative will get drugs on the market quicker, and provide a platform for government and drug makers to work together.

“We look forward to this collaboration delivering innovative technologies, that will ensure greater global access and reduced time to market for innovative medicines,” ​said GSK’s Lim Hock Heng.

“This Pharma Innovation Programme also provides a unique opportunity for government and pharmaceutical companies to work together for the benefit of the local manufacturing sites and the Singapore economy,” ​he added.

MSK Singapore’s John Smith said PIPS could boost the firm’s manufacturing capabilities.

“MSD needs to continue to innovate in its manufacturing and value chain to meet the changing demands of our patients and healthcare access,” ​said Smith.

“Through this programme, we hope to maximise our biocatalysis processes for efficiency, and fully leverage advances in digitalisation, automation, and process analytical technology that can greatly enhance our manufacturing capabilities,” ​he added.

SME opportunities

Chuan Poh said A*STAR plans to sign more partners in order to increase opportunity for Singapore’s small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

“A*STAR will continue to partner leading industry players to anchor high value-added manufacturing, adopt advanced manufacturing technologies and equip our people with the requisite skillsets,” ​he said.

“We seek to leverage on partnerships with leading companies to create opportunities for local SMEs to access higher-value work and be part of the global supply chain,” ​he said.

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