ABPI’s new Project Director for Manufacturing James Christie looks at the importance of medicines manufacturing and explains why he decided to join the ABPI.
The medicines manufacturing sector in the UK plays a vital but often undervalued role. It is one of the UK’s leading manufacturing sectors, with exports worth £24 billion. As well as its important financial contributions, a strong medicines manufacturing sector is vital to ensure that UK patients have faster access to more innovative medicines. The Medicines Manufacturing Industry Partnership (MMIP) was established to bring the UK’s medicines manufacturing industry together to create an attractive and innovation-rich environment to drive UK competitiveness, and build international recognition, in medicines manufacturing.
As a former manufacturer myself, there is nothing like the sense of achievement when I hear about the transforming impact that a medicine is having on patients. The stronger the medicines manufacturing sector in the UK, the more effective we will be at bringing innovative therapies and treatments to patients.
It’s exactly that challenge that motivated me to join the ABPI as Project Director for the MMIP initiative. This unique partnership, sponsored by both the ABPI and BIA, hopes to galvanise the medicines manufacturing sector to work together to identify and address the key areas that will drive the industry forward.
By looking across the board at issues such as supply chain innovation, developments in technology, changes to the fiscal environment and access to sustainable funding, we hope to create a user-friendly blueprint for success in UK medicines manufacturing.
The MMIP has already delivered in a number of key areas. Earlier this year we surveyed the sector to identify the skills needed for medicines manufacturers, now and in the future. The results from that survey are being fed into the Science Industry Partnership (SIP) for inclusion in their detailed map of skills requirements against technologies and sub-sectors.
The MMIP also made recommendations that have been included in two major new government investments - the National Formulation Centre to support product and process innovation in manufacturing (including pharmaceuticals) and the Cell Therapy Catapult Manufacturing Centre.
We have worked with the MHRA Innovation Office to produce and publish a case study giving practical insight to the support MHRA can offer industry and we have developed messaging in partnership with UKTI to articulate why the UK is an attractive proposition for medicines manufacturing businesses.
Of course, there is much more that needs to be done, so in 2015 I will be reaching out to key stakeholders to further engage with the UK’s innovation landscape.
The recent announcement around reforms to the patent box has put even greater importance on ensuring a fiscal environment that supports medicines manufacturing. We are committed to engaging with key stakeholders to make sure that medicines manufacturers have access to appropriate fiscal incentives such as patent box and R&D tax credits.
We will also be trying to secure funding for a major new initiative around the digital design of medicines. The proposed centre could lead to a step change in the way pharmaceutical products are designed and manufactured, give the UK a globally leading position and enable companies in the UK to bring innovations to patients’ years ahead of their competitors.
2015 looks to be a busy year for the MMIP. We will need to work hard if we are to achieve our goal of developing an ecosystem that not only supports the existing medicines manufacturing sector but facilitates new growth and inward investment for the UK. It’s a challenging task but the potential prize – expanding the UK’s manufacturing sector, aiding UK growth and allowing patients access to better treatments more quickly – is a huge one!
MMIP Project Director