35% of the UK's £6bn Pharmaceutical Industry is based in factories located in North East England. In fact the region has all the elements of the pharmaceutical product life-cycle with large pharmaceutical manufacturing companies supported by companies able to do preclinical research and development, clinical research and development including full scale drug testing trials, pilot scale manufacturing and full scale manufacturing - including active ingredients plus formulation, packaging and distribution.
The academic support that this sector receives is also world class with a number of leading edge medical research activities taking place at the five highly regarded local Universities of Durham, Newcastle, Northumbria, Sunderland and Teesside which have numerous 5* departments supporting pharmaceutical and biomedical research. In fact the UK's only licence to carry out somatic cell nuclear transfer is within the Life Knowledge Park at Newcastle. In addition a number of key Centres of Excellence support this research including the Centre of Excellence for Life Sciences (CELS), the Institute of Ageing and the Bioinformatics Institute. These groups are working with the Newcastle Science City initiative to grow the Region’s research and development capability.
The North East is home to large operations from a number of trans-national pharmaceutical companies which include the growing interests of Aesica Pharmaceuticals which has acquired two new facilities in the south of England at Ponders End (Merck Sharp & Dohme Limited) and the Isle of Sheppy (Abbot.) While the GlaxoSmithKline facility at Barnard Castle has also seen recent growth from new products as have Merck Sharp & Dohme in Cramlington and SSL International at Peterlee. Major manufacturer sanofi aventis have made major new investments into their two North East locations at Alnwick and Fawdon. Most recently we have seen the takeover and repositioning of the former Pfizer facility at Morpeth by Nicholas Piramel Ltd (NPIL) of India. This facility is being rejuvenated with a refocus on the external rather than the internal pharmaceutical market. Avecia Biologics are growing their business to fill their state of the art bioprocessing factory and newer, rapidly expanding companies, such as The Specials Laboratory are building more and more capacity and capability to serve new markets.
Clearly this upbeat situation has arisen from a lot of investment in this sector with 6 new factories being built in this region over recent years. At the same time those working in this sector recognise that they operate in an ever more globally competitive marketplace, therefore all of these North East facilities are striving to be amongst the best in terms of productivity and quality. To this end NEPIC along with partners such as the North East Productivity Alliance (NEPA) and the Process Industry Centre for Manufacturing Excellence (PICME) have been helping more and more companies from this sector take on board productivity improvement opportunities and best practice in order to keep these facilities as productive as they can be.