Pharmaceutical manufacturing in the UK

The industry has robust regulation, high standards and a low-risk manufacturing environment. Expertise is spread throughout the nation giving companies a significant skills base to deliver in a knowledge-intensive industry.

The UK is creating tomorrow’s medicines

The UK has a long and successful track record in pharmaceutical manufacturing. There’s a strong drive to develop manufacturing for the health and life sciences technologies of the future, such as advanced therapies, digital design or near-patient manufacturing. Whether you’re looking to make tomorrow’s medicines or next generation medical technologies and healthcare products, your company will thrive here.

A highly advanced sector and supply chain

There are around 1,300 companies involved in pharmaceutical manufacturing in the UK. Manufacturing in the life sciences accounts for nearly 10% (Gross Value Added) of all UK manufacturing, and sector exports are more than 30 billion GBP.

The pharmaceuticals sector alone conducts more UK-based business research and development than any other manufacturing sector, making up more than 20% of all business research and development in the UK.

The industry-led Medicines Manufacturing Industry Partnership (MMIP) works with the UK government to continue to improve and enhance the UK medicines manufacturing environment

Robust regulation with high standards and low risk

Businesses which set up or invest in the UK benefit from a low-risk manufacturing environment. Our industry offers a highly respected regulatory framework with robust compliance and quality assurance culture at every level. This means there are fewer chances of product recalls.

The Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is a supportive and pragmatic regulator. Its Innovation Office helps businesses clarify product regulatory or manufacturing requirements and can find faster routes to market.

MHRA has global impact as a regulatory agency and in setting international standards. The agency’s National Institute for Biological Standards and Control produces more than 90% of the international standards for biological medicines.

Global pipeline opportunities

The global pipeline of biological therapies is rapidly increasing, and there is a growing market for biosimilars and biobetters (variants of a biologic molecule) with some leading biological drugs coming off patent. The majority of the top 15 pharmaceutical companies are expected to grow their biologics portfolios, while injectable dose formulations are likely to spur Contract Manufacturing Organisation growth. The UK has strengths in both areas.

Health and life sciences talent and expertise in the UK

Pharmaceutical expertise

The UK’s pharmaceutical services sector has well-respected expertise and an excellent track record. The pharmaceuticals sector alone now accounts for more UK-based business research and development than any other manufacturing sector. This now makes up more than 20% of all business research and development.

All of the leading pharmaceutical corporations operating in the global market have a presence in the UK. Two of the top 10 global pharmaceutical companies (GSK and AZ) also have their headquarters here.

Proficiency in advanced therapy medicinal products

The UK is renowned for its knowledge and resources for ataxia telangiectasia mutated products and services, such as cell and gene therapies or tissue-engineered products.

To help your business grow, we support innovative manufacturing processes and technologies, giving you the significant skills base to deliver in this very knowledge-intensive area.

Small molecules still dominate the world’s medicines market. For new chemical entities, the UK is very competitive in ‘novel drug delivery mechanisms’, ‘tricky formulation’ and ‘continuous manufacturing’.

Government support for health and life sciences in the UK

The UK provides a very attractive tax regime for regional or global manufacturing. Tax incentives make it easier to reinvest in your next generation research and development. We offer:

  • low rates of tax, with headline corporation tax rate falling to 17% by 2020
  • innovation incentives (R&D tax relief and Patent Box) which can be utilised by product developers and their R&D, clinical or manufacturing partners
  • one of the most comprehensive global treaty networks

The combination of low tax rates and Patent Box could deliver an Effective Tax Rate (ETR) of 11% to 13%.

Championing innovation

We offer direct support for innovative manufacturing businesses. Your company can access national innovation infrastructure, with 3 main elements:

  • Research Councils champion science, engineering and technology in the UK, including manufacture via centres for innovative manufacturing.
  • Catapult is a specialised national network run by Innovate UK. They make world leading technical capability available to businesses and aid process development, prototyping and scale-up. The network includes the High Value Manufacturing Catapult programme and a National Biologics Manufacturing Centre, as well as the Cell and Gene Therapy Catapult with an at-scale manufacturing centre being built in Stevenage
  • The Knowledge Transfer Network helps businesses link up with partners in the value and supply chain.

The government also has up to 50 billion GBP available to support finance and insurance for supplies from within the UK to buyers outside the UK. This support takes the form of guarantees, insurance and loans issued by its export credit agency, UK Export Finance.