Making the production of pharmaceuticals more efficient will enable life-changing drugs to reach patients sooner.
There are many healthcare challenges that societies, insurers and governments now face, including the increasing cost of healthcare and an ever-aging population requiring long-term care. The proliferation of chronic diseases, which require continuous medication, is also putting healthcare services under pressure.
The existing pharmaceutical manufacturing process takes between 12 to 24 months to produce drugs for human consumption. From starting material to end result, there can be errors and hold ups along the chain which can lead to supply shortages.
What can we do in Scotland about this demand on the medicine supply chain?
We are currently working on new ways to continuously manufacture medicines that will lead to less wastage and speed-up production times. New technologies and systems are being invented to ease the burden on the chain. We need to solve the issues in the industry through a collaboration involving academic and manufacturing expertise.
Pioneering research is the backbone of any advancement and the Centre for Continuous Manufacturing and Advanced Crystallisation (CMAC), based at the University of Strathclyde, is a world-class hub for manufacturing research and training, working in partnership with industry. The centre’s purpose is to transform current manufacturing process of drugs and accelerate the adoption of new processes required for future medicines. CMAC works with industry and has attracted large pharma e.g. GSK, AstraZeneca, Bayer, Novartis, Lilly, Takeda, Roche and an eco-system of technology companies eg Siemens and PSE.
The challenge CMAC is addressing is industrially focused moving from traditional manufacturing to novel processes improving efficiencies in the medicine manufacturing process. Processes are developed quicker with less material, using advanced experimentation, modelling and simulation. For those working at CMAC, being able to speed up the manufacturing process to enable drugs to get to market sooner and improve patient care is at the heart of what they do.
CMAC’s active collaboration between industry including major pharmaceutical companies and with centres of research excellence at other UK universities has developed much needed skills here in Scotland to enable the adoption of continuous manufacturing in member companies
Scotland has the expertise to make continuous manufacturing of pharmaceuticals a reality and in doing so, it will bring real change and progress to pharmaceutical manufacturing and production.
By Clive Badman, Sustainable Production strategy-lead for Life Sciences Scotland