PHARMACEUTICAL giant GSK last week announced it would invest £275 million in three of its manufacturing facilities in Great Britain, in a move seen as an endorsement of the British investment environment post-Brexit.
The company said the investment would largely be dedicated to expanding its capacity to produce respiratory and large molecule biological medicines at three manufacturing sites located at Barnard Castle, County Durham; Montrose, Scotland; and Ware, Hertfordshire.
Most of the products made at these facilities are destined for export to global markets, the company added.
GSK CEO Andrew Witty in a statement said, “Today’s announcement reflects further investment to support our pharmaceutical pipeline and meet growing demand for our innovative portfolio of newly launched products. It is testament to our skilled UK workforce and the country’s leading position in life sciences that we are making these investments in advanced manufacturing here. From their manufacture in the UK, many of these medicines will be sent to patients around the world.”
GSK has a total of nine sites across the UK, with a total workforce of about 6,000 people.
Specific plans disclosed by the company include £92 million to fund the construction of an aseptic sterile facility supporting the manufacture of existing and new biopharmaceutical assets at the Barnard Castle facility, which employs 1,100 people; approximately £110 million for a manufacturing unit for respiratory active ingredients at Montrose, Scotland; and £74 million at Ware site, one of GSK’s largest with a workforce of about 1,200, for expansion of manufacturing of its new Ellipta respiratory inhaler.
Amid worrisome economic indicators following Britain’s surprise vote to exit the European Union at the end of June, the GSK investment is seen by some as a vote of confidence in the UK, but Nigel Driffield, a professor of international business at Warwick Business School, downplayed the impact in an e-mail comment to The Manila Times.
“This will be seen as good new post-Brexit, and will doubtless be seized upon by supporters of Brexit that the UK is still good for business, especially as Sir Andrew Witty was a fierce ‘remainer’,” Driffield said.
“Yet while £275 million is a large amount of money, to a company with turnover approaching £25 billion, an investment of this size, spread over a number of years, is not much more than keeping things ticking over,” he added.
Nevertheless, Driffield did see some positives in the announcement. “In this sector, there are, and remain a number of factors that make the UK attractive – a skilled workforce, and continued supply of graduates from universities of international renown; a heritage of both research and manufacturing in the sector, and possibly most importantly, very favorable tax treatments of both R&D and capital investment for pharma companies. Equally, firms in sectors such as this recognize that they are in a ‘war for talent’ and relocating away from much of their talent, especially in the short term, is not viable.”