UK backs continuous processing

Stephanie Sutton

Stephanie Sutton was an assistant editor at Pharmaceutical Technology Europe.

Pharmaceutical Technology Europe

A consortium led by GlaxoSmithKline (UK) intends to deliver a "step change improvement" in pharmaceutical tablet manufacturing in the UK by "substantially" increasing the country's manufacturing efficiency.

A consortium led by GlaxoSmithKline (UK) intends to deliver a "step change improvement" in pharmaceutical tablet manufacturing in the UK by "substantially" increasing the country's manufacturing efficiency. The consortium will be working to prove a new way of manufacturing tablets that uses continuous processing rather than a batch-based process.

"The traditional tablet manufacturing process has evolved into one that is easy to regulate, but very manual and therefore expensive to operate in western economies," Adrian Howson, Head of Pharmaceutical Process at Sagentia, which is involved in the consortium, explained in a press statement.

The consortium hopes that the new processing approach will reduce the cost of pharmaceutical manufacture and enable UK companies to compete with lower cost economies. According to the press statement: "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 project is being funded by the UK's Technology Strategy Board as part of a£24-million (approximately 27 million Euros) investment in high-value manufacturing projects. "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," Iain Gray, Chief Executive of the Technology Strategy Board, said in the press statement. "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 unlock competitive potential in high-value manufacturing."

Speaking to Pharmaceutical Technology Europe, Howson also added: "The pharmaceutical industry has been hit hard in the last few years, by the growth in low-cost manufacturing in India and the Far East, by the expiry of patents on a number of blockbusters and to a lesser extent by the economic downturn. There are signs of recovery as some new and important therapies come to fruition; however these will need new and cost-competitive manufacturing processes to deliver the value they promise. The pharmaceutical industry is still one, if not 'the' biggest UK revenue stream and this transformational project will play a significant part in enabling the success of the industry going forward."

www.sagentia.com