GSK is Launching a New Innovation Centre for Pharma Manufacturing

Reducing the time to market for medicine is a core goal of the pharmaceutical industry, and by playing its part in a new innovation centre GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) is helping develop the new technologies and processes to get remedies to the people who need them more efficiently than ever.

Today, GSK is one of the most well-known pharmaceutical brands in the world, and employs over 99,000 people. The Brentford-based company has revenues of $37,642 million, placing it at #273 on the Fortune 500.

An Innovation Centre for Medicine Manufacture

In June, it was announced that work was to begin on a £56 million innovation centre for pharmaceutical manufacturing in Renfrewshire, Scotland. The project is the first of its kind in the world, and is being financed with contributions from various funds and Scottish enterprise sources, as well as significant investment from pharmaceutical giants AstraZeneca and GSK. The University of Strathclyde and the Medicines Manufacturing Industry Partnership (MMIP) will also be heavily involved with the Centre.

The Medicines Manufacturing Innovation Centre (MMIC) will be located in the area’s Advanced Manufacturing Innovation District and is expected to create 80 new high value research and development jobs by 2023.

“As an industry, it’s critical that we develop, test and adopt the latest innovations in manufacturing safely and quickly,” said Global Technology Strategy Director of Operations for AstraZeneca, Jon-Paul Sherlock. “We believe the collaboration between industry, academia and government via the MMIC will help drive this, and will ensure that new medicines can reach patients in a timely manner. AstraZeneca is delighted to be a founding partner and we are committed to playing an active role to ensure the MMIC is successful.”

Continuous Manufacturing

One of the core roles for MMIC will be to take the output of the EPSRC Centre for Continuous Manufacturing and Advanced Crystallisation (CMAC) and translate it to the industry.

Continuous manufacturing is a dramatic departure from the way medicines are traditionally produced – in batches. With continuous manufacturing, factories can be producing medicines 24 hours a day, all year around. The process shift comes with many challenges, however, and it’s these challenges which CMAC carries out its research to overcome. Advanced crystallisation techniques are also allowing for the production of higher-value products with specific properties and the building of more efficient manufacturing processes.

However, raw research isn’t much use without practical applications, and it will be the responsibility of the MMIC to take those findings and come up with innovative ways to make them applicable in real-life manufacturing environments.

“Strathclyde has earned an international reputation for research and innovation that accelerates and enhances the manufacturing of medicines and pharmaceuticals,” said University of Strathclyde Principal Professor, Sir Jim McDonald. “As strategic partners in MMIC, we will have an enhanced role in supporting industry to deliver urgently-needed medicines both swiftly and effectively. MMIC will provide world-class talent, research capability, technology, facilities, knowledge and experience to industry to ensure these challenges are met.”

Final Thoughts

While there will always be a place for batch production in the pharmaceutical industry when it comes to small run or bespoke medicines, the MMIC’s goal of implementing continuous manufacturing and advanced crystallisation will ensure all medicines are brought to market in the most efficient manner possible, while still maintaining the high quality patients demand.

The final word goes to Chair of the Scottish Life Sciences Industry Leadership Group, and Vice President, Head of Global Manufacturing and Supply Strategy for GSK, Dr Dave Tudor.

“Industry, government, academia and others are working together to secure an internationally competitive leadership position for the UK in life sciences for the long-term. GSK has long advocated the value of collaborations like the MMIC to capitalise on our world-class science base and deliver innovation that drives growth and improves patient care. We are delighted to have an active involvement in this new centre.”

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