A new report from the Medicines Manufacturing Industry Partnership (MMIP) has asked the government for support in building four new Centres of Excellence for medicines manufacturing across the UK.

The centres would provide high-skilled jobs and make the UK the first place in the world where new drugs can be discovered, made and packaged.

Manufacturing Vision for UK Pharma details how the centres would help plug gaps in the UK’s capabilities in areas such as diagnostics and packaging, advanced therapy production and small molecule processing. All regions of the UK would see highly skilled jobs created to help support and expand existing advance medicine research and development activity.

The government has already made it clear that investing in cutting-edge healthcare and medicine is important and set aside a 4-year investment of £197 million to develop first-of-a-kind technologies for the manufacture of medicines that will speed up patient access to new drugs and treatments, building on the exporting strengths of the UK’s biopharmaceutical sector.

The NHS has also made commitments in its newest business plan to focus on “enhancement of our medicines manufacturing capabilities.”

The paper sets out a practical plan of action for how the government and industry can work together to build up the UK’s medicine manufacturing sector. The roadmap seeks government funding for four Centres of Excellence, including

  • a Medicines Manufacturing Innovation Centre (MMIC) in Scotland capable of providing a clinical supply of medicines and further develop manufacturing capabilities at EPSRC Centre for Innovative Manufacturing in Continuous Manufacturing and Crystallisation – already a world-class international hub for manufacturing research and training
  • an open-access facility to allow the manufacturing of complex medicines and handling of high-potency materials
  • a centre to support the development of the next generation of packaging technology and smart devices required for new types of medicines, such as specialised packs
  • continued support for a centre for manufacturing cutting-edge specialised cell and gene therapies.

The return on the £140 investment would be through company spend to access the research hubs, and through indirect investment as global companies choose the UK as a base to research and manufacture their medicines.

These centres of excellence could be spread throughout the UK including in Scotland and the North of England.

Partnership working would ally “bricks and mortar” investment from the government, with world-leading talent and access to innovative research from industry. Access to the science centres of excellence would be on a pay-per-use basis, with UK universities and charities given discounted rates.

Andy Evans, Chair of the Medicines Manufacturing Industry Partnership (MMIP), said: “The UK is already one of the best places in the world to research and develop exciting new medicines for hard-to-treat diseases, but needs to improve when it comes to manufacturing and packaging them, ready to go to patients.”

“This new infrastructure is needed to ensure high-value jobs in manufacturing and packaging with know-how scales and grows here. From early-stage research and development to manufacturing and packaging, we want a coherent, joined up system so that patients will benefit when first-in-kind medicines are launched in the same place they are discovered.”

The Centres of Excellence would allow staff to be trained alongside some of the best manufacturing and packaging experts in the world. A recent report estimated an additional 400-600 skilled staff will be required during the next 2 years to match the growth of the ‘advanced therapies’ drugs sector in the UK.

This roadmap looks to support the UK government’s commitment to provide training in emerging technologies and make Britain “future ready.”

It also aims to provide the industry’s priorities in medicines manufacturing to inform the government’s imminent Industrial Strategy and funding mechanisms such as the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund. The roadmap asks the government to provide support for advanced therapies manufacturing as laid out in the 2016 Advanced Therapies Manufacturing Action Plan.
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