The Chief Executive of the ABPI has today told the International Trade Committee that the coronavirus pandemic shows why resilient, global supply of medicines is so important.
Robust global supply chains are fundamental for ensuring the NHS continues to get the medicines it needs, and we need to make sure this continues. Coronavirus has shown us that they cope incredibly well in the face of a crisis, but we must be vigilant. Richard Torbett
Dr Richard Torbett gave evidence for the Committee’s inquiry into the COVID-19 pandemic and international trade. He explained why the industry often relies on global supply chains and why having medicine supply and manufacturing spread out across the globe allows manufacturers to adjust as needed, ensure greater stability, and mitigate potential shortages and disruptions.
Speaking after the evidence session, Dr Richard Torbett said:
“With around 12,000 medicines used by the NHS it would be impossible for the UK to be in position to manufacture all of the medicines it needs.
“No country operates in this way for good reason. Robust global supply chains are fundamental for ensuring the NHS continues to get the medicines it needs, and we need to make sure this continues. Coronavirus has shown us that they cope incredibly well in the face of a crisis, but we must be vigilant.”
When manufacturers are setting up new supply chains they take into account the locations of each source facility and have measures in place to manage the various elements of the production process, including sufficient access to the skilled workers and materials needed.
Dr Torbett added that future Government policy must ensure the UK is as attractive as possible for the next wave of manufacturing innovation, so that the UK can play its full part within the global supply chain:
“While the UK must continue to be a voice for global co-operation and the fair distribution of medicines, it’s also vital for the UK life sciences and the economy that we continue to maintain and grow our medicines and health technology manufacturing capability here.
“When next generation manufacturing is looking for a home, we need to make sure the UK stands out. That means investing in infrastructure and talent, but also having a future trade agenda which supports free trade.”
“Protectionist measures only undermine the supply chain resilience that has been so vital during this pandemic.”
You can watch the International Trade Committee on Parliament TV here.
Last modified: 20 September 2023
Last reviewed: 20 September 2023