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GSK funnels another £200m into UK manufacturing

Published on 12/12/13 at 08:26am
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GlaxoSmithKline has made good on a pledge to invest in UK-based production, with £200 million ($328m) earmarked for plant upgrades and a brand new manufacturing research facility.

The two oldest facilities in its network - at Ware in Hertfordshire and Worthing in Sussex - will be furnished with new equipment. 

Meanwhile, Ware could also see the creation of a new innovation centre design to translate scientific discoveries into practical manufacturing advances that could "significantly reduce costs, improve quality and enable the manufacture of medicines in weeks rather than years", said Roger Connor, GSK's president of global manufacturing and supply.

A final decision on the location of this facility will be made at a later date, but the decision to set up a dedicated unit ties in with GSK's investment in new production technologies such as biocatalysis and continuous processing

The latest block of cash comes on top of £500 million of investment promised by the company following the UK government's introduction of a 'patent box', which lowers the tax rate on profits from products based on UK-owned intellectual property (IP). 

The bulk of that investment - around £350 million - is going on a new biopharmaceutical manufacturing hub in Ulverston which is set to become the first new factory to be built by GSK in the UK for 40 years. It is due to be fully operational by 2020-2021. GSK also recently announced an investment of £25 million to expand its operations in Montrose, Scotland.

"The establishment of the patent box has transformed how we see the UK as a place to invest," according to Connor.

The upgrades to the Ware facility will focus on new production lines for the Ellipta inhaler, used in GSK's chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) therapy Relvar (vilanterol and umeclidinium bromide) which was recently recommended for approval in Europe.

In Worthing, the money will be spent on a new bulk sterile filling line for GSK's Augmentin (co-amoxiclav) antibiotic, which remains a big seller for the company despite being first introduced in the 1980s. Sales of the drug - which is exported to more than 150 countries worldwide - were £465 million in the first nine months of 2013. 

UK Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt welcomed the news, saying: "GSK's decision to invest in the UK shows we are creating the right conditions for global investment, leading to job creation and growth, as well as maintaining the UK's place as a world leader in innovation".

Phil Taylor

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