The boss of a Swindon pharmaceutical company has welcomed a call by NHS leaders to reduce the risk of future drug shortages by bringing more drug manufacturing to the UK.
The NHS Confederation, a 500-strong membership body that represents hospitals, ambulance trusts, health and social care organisations and clinical commissioning groups, says dealing with Covid-19 has put enormous pressure on UK supplies of prescription medicines and over-the-counter drugs.
In an interview with The Observer, Dr Layla McCay, director of International Relations at the NHS Confederation, said government needs to make it easier for manufacturers involved in the pharmaceutical industry to base their operations in the UK.
“Future government policy should ensure that the UK is as attractive as possible for the next wave of manufacturing innovation,” said Dr McCay.
“We need to be investing in infrastructure to build the facilities to do this. And we need to be investing in talent, which means attracting the top scientific brains to the UK and the top manufacturing talent.”
Daniel Tedham, MD of the Swindon-based Wasdell Group, which is one of the largest independent manufacturing and packaging suppliers to the pharmaceutical and life science sectors in Europe, says that reducing the UK’s reliance on overseas companies to complete the pharmaceutical supply chain will be crucial from now on.
“Every country has learned a lot from the pandemic, and one of the key areas of learning for the UK has to be that we need to be able to be more self-sufficient in terms of accessing supply chains of drugs and healthcare products,” said Daniel.
“The UK has always been seen as a leading country in terms of drug development, manufacturing and improving regulatory requirements. However, in the past ten years more and more pharma companies have reduced or relocated their operations to other countries.
“As a major manufacturer, we know that the supply chain in the pharmaceutical sector is extremely complex and has to be rigorously audited, and the more that we can do of that in the UK, rather than being highly reliant on international partners, the more secure our own national stock of pharmaceuticals will be.
“The life sciences are an area where Government has rightly said it wants to see growth, and we support any moves it can make to follow the NHS Confederation’s professional advice and strengthen this country’s pharmaceutical base.”