The pharmaceutical industry in the UK is at a crucial juncture. On the one hand, the industry has driven cutting-edge scientific research and development for decades, producing innovative medicines responsible for reducing mortality and morbidity.
However, the industry also faces several commercial challenges including slow uptake of medicines and some of the lowest medicines prices in Europe. Patient expectations are rising, and health systems around the world are demanding access to cost-competitive and innovative medicines that provide better results and fewer side effects. In this era of dramatic change, it is crucial that we maintain the UK’s position as a world leading economy and location of choice for pharmaceutical investment.
The Medicines Manufacturing Industry Partnership (MMIP) was recently launched, a new initiative that aims to position the UK as a world leading economy for existing and advanced medicines manufacturing capability. The MMIP will draw on the resources and commitment of industry, government and other relevant stakeholders to create an ambitious joint work programme on technology, innovation, skills and regulation. Individual workstreams to address these topics will be set up and coordinated by a steering group led by Ian McCubbin, SVP North America, Japan & Global Pharma Supply, at GlaxoSmithKline (GSK). By fostering new ideas to exploit scientific and technology advances, the partnership will ultimately aim to position the UK as the location of choice for medicines manufacturing.
As my colleague Dr Louise Leong remarked in her blog last week, recent advances in science and technology have allowed industry to develop a more focused and personalised approach to the development of medicines. At the same time, the medicines manufacturing development model is shifting away from the dominance of small molecules and evolving towards one with a balance between small molecules, biologics and cell and gene therapy. Whereas in 2012, 84% of the global pharmaceutical market by value was small molecules, pipeline estimates suggest that this will move towards a 50/50 split. Equally, the small molecule platform will evolve considerably over the coming years with greater use of biocatalysis, continuous processing and novel dosage forms.
Important changes in drug development process are occurring which places the industry at the heart of a crucially important debate on the economic future of the UK. Today’s launch of the MMIP represents an important step forward in creating new models of partnership to take advantage of the economic opportunities that exist for the UK. In terms of medicines manufacturing, this could entail both growing and ‘reshoring’ the manufacturing of traditional modalities like small chemical entities based on manufacturing process innovation, as well as leading the production of new modalities like biologics, and cell and gene therapies.
The pharmaceutical industry makes a vital contribution to the UK’s economy and has huge potential to flourish and generate further growth. In order for this to be achieved, it is vital that industry and government create the right conditions for the UK to be able to attract investment and compete globally to sustain its vibrant and innovative research community and advanced manufacturing expertise.
We welcome the Medicines Manufacturing Industry Partnership as an important step forward to achieving this goal.
ABPI Technical Affairs Manager