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Wednesday, 26 November 2014

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Drugs firm's Ulverston site manager on fact-finding mission to USA

THE manager behind plans to build a new biopharm facility at a drugs giant in Cumbria has been on a fact-finding mission to the US.

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Pat McIver

Pat McIver, GSK’s site biopharm lead in Ulverston, travelled to factories at Upper Merion in Philadelphia and Rockville in Maryland to learn more about how a biopharm factory operates, as the company moves towards more detailed planning of the new Cumbrian facility.

Mr McIver said: “This was a very useful trip to see first-hand how two biopharmaceutical manufacturing facilities have been developed in America and how their day-to-day operation differs from the way our existing Ulverston factory works. It gave me an opportunity to learn more about the skills that are required in a biopharmaceutical factory and how the managers there support skills development. I was able to see how the two factories work with their supply chains, the company’s research and development teams and also the regulators.”

During his visits, Mr McIver met a wide range of employees including site directors and people working in quality control, procurement, engineering and regulatory roles.

He said: “It was very useful to meet people working in different parts of the factories and to get an insight into the science and technology of biopharmaceutical manufacturing. I was very struck by the huge sense of pride that people had in what they were doing and the depth of their understanding.”

The biopharmaceutical products need to be stored at very low temperatures and Mr McIver had the opportunity to experience going into a store that was maintained at minus 40 degrees.

He said: “I had some sympathy with Ranulph Fiennes even just spending a short time at that temperature. It completely took my breath away and it took several minutes for my glasses to defrost when I got out!”

GSK submitted the outline planning application for the biopharmaceutical factory that will be built at Ulverston in June. A decision on the application is expected later this year and managers are now starting more detailed planning for the new facility.

GSK expects to start work on building the new factory in 2016, once a ‘reserved matters’ planning application has been approved and additional work has been completed to prepare for construction. Constructing and commissioning a facility to produce biopharmaceutical medicines takes a long time because of the high specifications and regulatory approvals needed. The new factory will therefore not be fully operational until around 2021.

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