News Feature | May 20, 2014

GSK To Invest In UK API Manufacturing Plant

By Lori Clapper

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) unveiled plans to build a £25-28 million manufacturing facility for active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs), expanding the role of its current Montrose plant in the UK.

The Courier reports that this expansion will open up 25 new manufacturing jobs, adding to the 100 who already work at the location. The plant will operate 24 hours a day, with up to 10 people working there at any given time, and it could produce up to 1,500 kg of APls each year. The new plant, which will contain “a range of gravity fed equipment,” will provide “new chemical entities,” and be a key production site for global operations, the Courier says.

GSK also says the facility will serve as a back-up plant for a primary plant in Singapore.

This is the latest in a string of good news from the drug maker. At the American Thoracic society earlier this month, the company reported favorable results from a late-stage clinical study of long-acting muscarinic antagonist (also known as an anticholinergic), umeclidinium ‘UMEC’. According to GSK, the study showed that the addition of UMEC (at dosages of 62.5mcg or 125mcg) to fluticasone proprionate and salmeterol (FSC 250/50 mcg) resulted in a significant improvement in lung function when compared with placebo added to FSC 250/50 mcg, in patients with COPD.

Last month GSK also announced its acquisition of the Novartis Consumer Healthcare, Vaccines and Oncology divisions. Novartis and GSK “agreed to trade more than $20 billion (11 billion pounds) worth of assets…to bolster their best businesses and exit weaker ones as the drug industry contends with healthcare spending cuts and generic competition,” Reuters reported.

“Opportunities to build greater scale and combine high quality assets in Vaccines and Consumer Healthcare are scarce,” Witty said, “With this transaction we will substantially strengthen two of our core businesses and create significant new options to increase value for shareholders.”

While pharmaceuticals and vaccine sales in the UK were down by as much as 29 percent between October and December of 2013, GSK CEO Sir Andrew Witty said earlier this year that business was stabilizing.

Indeed, GSK just announced Tuesday that it would be working to improve access to its vaccines by implementing a 5-year price freeze for its pneumococcal disease, rotavirus, and cervical cancer vaccines for all developing countries graduating from GAVI Alliance Support.