GSK Plans £275 Million UK Investment

In a post-Brexit vote of confidence, major drugmaker Glaxo SmithKline (GSK) has announced it will invest £275 million in its UK network to boost production and support delivery of its respiratory and large molecule biological drugs. CEO Andrew Witty said the investment at three sites will support its pharmaceutical pipeline and meet growing demand for its newly launched products.

The decision is interpreted as sending a positive signal following the “leave” vote, which has prompted much uncertainty about future investment in the country. The CEOs of GSK and AstraZeneca (Pascale Soriot) are heading the UK pharmaceutical industry’s Brexit steering committee founded to help smaller drugmakers in particular master the challenges. Both companies – which like most of the industry had supported the “remain” side – said earlier that the UK’s quitting the EU would not significantly affect their own business.

Responding to the GSK announcement, the UK’s Business and Energy Secretary Greg Clark, said: "An investment of this scale is a clear vote of confidence in Britain and underlines our position as a global business leader.” GSK said it still views the UK as an attractive location because of its skilled workforce, technological and scientific capabilities and infrastructure, as well as its competitive corporate tax system.

The drugmaker mentioned in particular the Patent Box, which encourages investment in R&D and related manufacturing in the country through a lower rate of corporate tax on profits generated from UK-owned intellectual property. The investment will be split across GSK’s sites in Barnard Castle, County Durham; Montrose in Angus, Scotland; and Ware in Hertfordshire.

An aseptic sterile facility will be built at Barnard Castle, at a cost of £92 million, supporting the manufacture of new and existing biopharmaceutical assets. In Montrose, roughly £110 million will be spent on a facility to produce respiratory active ingredients.

Expenditure of £74 million in Ware will increase capacity for GSK’s Ellipta respiratory inhaler. Most of the products made at the expanded sites will be exported, and the investments are likely to create new jobs.

GSK is reported to have invested £750 million over the past six years, with this latest decision taking the total to £1 billion.

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