IfM to lead research in £23m project to reconfigure UK pharma supply chains

The IfM will lead research into a £23m collaborative project on reconfiguring UK pharmaceutical supply chains.

UK Business Secretary Vince Cable has announced funding for a life sciences consortium project working on future pharmaceutical supply chains. The REMEDIES (RE-configuring MEDIcines End-to-end Supply) project is part of the Advanced Manufacturing Supply Chain Initiative (AMSCI) programme.


It will be led by GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), which will provide major inputs on clinical supply chains, with the IfM leading on commercial supply chain and overall research coordination, AstraZeneca focusing on formulation developments, and the University of Strathclyde team within the Centre for Continuous Manufacturing and Crystallisation (CMAC) looking at active processing.


Other industrial partners include major contract manufacturing organisations, equipment manufacturers and technology and system providers spanning the end-to-end pharmaceutical supply chain.


Although UK pharmaceutical firms lead global markets, significant challenges lie ahead of them relating to the affordability of drugs, product portfolio fragmentation and the ability of existing supply chains to embrace emerging technologies. These challenges compound existing problems of inventory across the end-to-end supply chain, and poor ‘right-first-time’ processing which costs the industry £20bn per annum globally. 


The IfM’s Centre for International Manufacturing will lead this new research activity into more patient-centric and integrated end-to-end supply chains as part of this major sector-wide initiative that will evaluate new technology innovations within the UK pharmaceutical supply chain. 


As well as inputs from industrial partners, the collaboration also involves key institutional bodies across the UK pharmaceutical ecosystem – skills agencies, user representatives, regulators and health sector specialists – to ensure future, more adaptive supply chain models are supported by consistent standards and a unified approach to regulation. Activities will include two sector-wide platform projects focused on the end-to-end clinical and commercial supply chain, and several technology-specific application workstreams. 


Roger Connor, President, Global Manufacturing and Supply, GlaxoSmithKline, said: “This funding brings together 20 partners from across industry and academia in an innovative partnership with the aim of transforming how medicines are made and ensuring we are even more responsive to the changing needs of patients. This bid, which will focus on areas such as continuous manufacturing and new technology platforms, creates and safeguards jobs across the partnership and helps keep the UK at the forefront of life sciences.”


Dr Jag Srai, research project lead, said: “The project provides an opportunity to reconfigure existing pharmaceutical supply chains in the UK, end-to-end, by exploiting latest technology advances in medicines and patient-centric delivery models.” 


Through AMSCI, the Government has provided £11m to the project.