Collaboration as the Best Medicine


Jagjit Singh Srai1, Clive Badman2
1. Centre for International Manufacturing, Institute for Manufacturing, Department of Engineering, University of Cambridge, United Kingdom
2. Business Engagement Group, University of Strathclyde, United Kingdom


Collaboration can be pivotal in making change happen. So how can new collaborative models be forged in areas where such relationships are not well established, but where change is required?
In UK medicines manufacturing, there is an opportunity and a pressing need for progressive change. But there are also plenty of challenges and obstacles, particularly in a highly competitive and tightly regulated sector. A bold step forward has been taken through a collaborative £23m four-year project, ReMediES, involving 22 industry partners and 2 leading UK Universities.
Dr Jag Srai and Professor Clive Badman, co-Directors of Project ReMediES discuss how the project has forged a model for change through collaboration.

Medicines manufacturing is an important part of the UK economy, employing 40,000 people and generating $33 billion in exports. In many ways, it is productive, strong and successful. However, there is potential for making significant improvements across the medicines manufacturing supply chain.

The pharmaceutical industry’s size, scale and complexity, alongside its highly-competitive character, have made change difficult. There is an entrenched pattern of long product development cycles with high attrition rates, leading to development costs of around $2.6 billion per product. Clinical trials often take place many months after the trial drugs have been manufactured, resulting in significant stock write-offs of 50% or more. The commercial supply chain has become cumbersome and inventory-heavy. Furthermore, the sector is highly regulated, which instils caution.

While this status quo may sound problematic and somewhat bleak, in fact it has provided a much-needed stimulus for industry players to seek improvements, and a motivation to reach over those high competitive walls and collaborate for mutual benefit.