Sagentia helps reduce cost of pharmaceutical production in UK

15 December 2009

Sagentia, part of a consortium led by GlaxoSmithKline, is delivering a step change improvement in advanced secondary pharmaceutical manufacturing in the UK.

The aim of the project is to substantially improve manufacturing efficiency within the UK pharmaceutical industry for the production of the largest proportion of dosage forms — tablets. The consortium will work to prove a new way of making tablets, which instead of using a batch-based process will use continuous processing.

This approach aims to dramatically reduce the cost of pharmaceutical manufacture, thereby enabling UK companies to compete more effectively with lower cost economies. The efficiency gains are targeted at improving manufacturing precision, productivity and mass yield, and will be deliverable at approximately 70% of the capital cost of conventional technology.

The consortium is made up of partners from industry and academia and includes GlaxoSmithKline, GEA Pharma Systems Ltd., Siemens Industrial Automation and Drives Technology, University of Warwick, Newcastle University and Sagentia.

The Technology Strategy Board, the government funded body that supports technological innovation in the UK, is funding the project as part of a £24 million investment in high-value manufacturing projects. This fund was launched in January 2009 by the Technology Strategy Board. Businesses from a broad range of industries were invited to form consortia to compete for funding.

The funding was awarded to 33 projects, which include important research and development into the effectiveness of processes used in drugs manufacture and research which could help in the search for a cure for cancer. Only 50% of the projects that met the assessment criteria were successful in gaining funding.

Iain Gray, Chief Executive of the Technology Strategy Board, said: "This investment is intended to maintain and develop the international competitiveness of UK manufacturing companies against a backdrop where manufacturing often gravitates to countries with lower overall costs. It's also important to ensure that companies continue to innovate during the downturn to ensure a successful recovery for the UK economy. This is part of a concerted drive to help to unlock competitive potential in high value manufacturing."

Adrian Howson, Head of Pharmaceutical Process at Sagentia, comments: "We are delighted to be involved in this project. Traditional tablet manufacturing process has evolved into one that is easy to regulate but very manual and therefore expensive to operate in western economies. As a result, manufacturing capacity is being exported to Asia Pacific where labour costs are lower and UK manufacturing plants are already starting to close. This is an important opportunity for the UK pharmaceutical industry to maintain worldwide competitiveness in pharmaceutical manufacture."


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