If we look at REMEDIES what do you think it can achieve?
I think it can be the beginning of transforming the pharmaceutical supply chain. I think, in reality, manufacturing has been a bit of a Cinderella within the pharmaceutical industry. We have seen plenty of money has gone into research and development, lots of money put into marketing but, for a long time, we really haven’t done much to introduce new technologies into manufacturing. I think there are many opportunities out there now for us to get a much more flexible and productive supply chain in place. REMEDIES can be the start of that and it can make an impact.
What is the power of collaboration in this rather than just Cambridge University doing it or GSK doing it or Strathclyde CMAC or any of the other partners doing it on their own?
And therein lies the power of it. It is a collaboration. In REMEDIES, what we are doing is bringing the power of the entire supply chain to bear on a number of projects and problems. They are linked. You can make small incremental changes as part of the supply chain but if you bring everybody together across the whole supply chain to try to understand where the difficulties are and to help work to put new solutions in place, then that is when you get a really high performing project.
This is not a new approach. We have pretty much stolen this approach from the aerospace and automotive industries who have been working on supply chain projects in this way for quite some time. In fact, if you look at all the advanced manufacturing supply chain projects, of which REMEDIES is one, then there are very few of these in life sciences: just three to my knowledge. But there are many, many more in the realms of aerospace and automotive, which have been showing great success .And that’s what we are trying to emulate.
So what is the value, first to UK plc and specifically to the Pharma industry, if you get this right?
If we start at the very top of that picture at the very highest level what we are seeing in the UK and other countries is an increase in population, and an increase in older people within that population. We are seeing enormous pressure on healthcare costs. At the same time, it is getting more and more expensive to bring new medicines to market. So were trying to find ways of addressing that challenge: reducing the cost of bringing products to patients.
That’s the very top line which is patient centric. But it’s also true to say that between 2008 and 2013 we have seen a 19% reduction in pharmaceutical manufacturing in the UK. This is largely due, I think, to products being outsourced to low-cost countries. And that’s a dreadful shame when we can bring new technologies to bear that are more efficient, add better quality and give lower manufacturing costs. So, REMEDIES is there to try to reverse that trend in pharmaceutical manufacturing moving away from UK. It is there to encourage more pharmaceutical manufacturing in the UK, seeding the introduction of new technologies.
It is also about introducing new ways of working that can give us a supply chain that has less of a problem with right first time manufacturing. At the moment, we are operating at a roundabout three sigma. We could be operating at around five sigma with much improved quality and much shorter supply chains with the introduction of new technologies; less money tied up in stock; fewer shortages for patients.
So, I think in terms of UK plc we should be creating more jobs and certainly sustaining jobs as we bring back the manufacture of products from overseas.
On paper the project ends in March 2018. What do you believe are the next steps now that the ball is so clearly rolling?
I think it falls into a number of opportunities. First of all, we need to increase the publicity on this program. You will have heard Andy Jones in feedback as an independent observer to our recent partners meeting say that this was the most inspirational programme that he had seen in a long time. I think we genuinely have some very good results both from the platforms and the applications. Results that can see new equipment being sold and better productivity. We need to get better at telling people what we are achieving.
I don’t think it should be too hard to persuade government and Innovate UK given that they have pumped money into the aerospace and automotive industries and seen great results, and, with similar encouragement in the pharmaceutical sector, we should be able to see equally impressive results in terms of smarter more responsive supply chain and a better service to patients at lower cost. I want to seek further investment in collaborative projects in pharmaceutical manufacturing.
Beyond this we need to let companies know of the great opportunities we are creating so that we can get a better uptake of projects in pharmaceutical manufacturing.