GSK opens new US$110M smart factory in UK

UNITED KINGDOM – Pharmaceutical and healthcare giant GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) has opened a new aseptic smart manufacturing facility at its Barnard Castle site, representing an investment of more than £90 million (US$110 million).

The facility, which will be known as Q Block is a fully automated, paperless digital facility that leverages digital technology to make manufacturing operations more efficient.

This in turn is expected to allow GSK hasten the launch of new medicines while cutting down on waste, Regis Simard, president of GSK global supply chain, said in a statement quoted by Business Live.

The facility will begin manufacturing medicines during the first half of 2023, supporting existing and new biopharmaceutical assets in the business's portfolio and pipeline.

Construction of the facility was completed in 2020, and since then the base has been undergoing final trial work.

The facility will begin manufacturing medicines during the first half of 2023, supporting existing and new biopharmaceutical assets in the business’s portfolio and pipeline.


Business Live didn’t name the specific drugs the British pharma plans to pump out at Q block, though it noted the Barnard Castle site, which was founded back in 1945, manufactures myriad products, including drugs for HIV, respiratory diseases and autoimmune diseases.

Elizabeth Rowbotham, GSK Barnard Castle site director, said: “Barnard Castle is a key site for GSK, and at the heart of the future strategy for the company delivering important existing and new medicines globally.

The Q Block facility puts GSK and Barnard Castle at the forefront of medicines manufacture and I am delighted the site will play such an important role supporting the delivery of our innovative pipeline.

This investment demonstrates GSK’s commitment to the local area and I look forward to continuing to build a skilled team of people from across a mix of disciplines.

What we do together here makes a difference to patients every day and I am honored to work alongside such a committed team.”

Barnard Castle is one of GSK’s largest manufacturing sites in the UK, employing about 1,000 people and supplying nearly half a million packs of products per day to 140 global markets.

Regis Simard, president of GSK global supply chain, added: “I am delighted to join our teams in officially opening our smart manufacturing facility at our Barnard Castle site.

This is a highly advanced technical achievement and by successfully applying digital technology we will be able to launch more transformational medicines at speed for patients, by developing a right first-time capability, whilst also reducing waste.”

Early last year, GSK said it was shutting down antibiotics production in the UK shortly after it sold three related brands—Zinnat, Zinacef and Fortum—to Novartis’ Sandoz unit for US$500 million, according to Fiercepharma.

Meanwhile GSK is set to acquire clinical-stage biopharmaceutical company Affinivax, Inc. for US$3.3 billion, duly expanding the UK-based pharma vaccine portfolio.

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