GSK opens doors at $110M biologics smart factory in UK

While GSK has trimmed some staffers at Barnard Castle in recent years, it's still investing in next-gen manufacturing at the U.K. site. 

The British Big Pharma has cut the ribbon at its new aseptic smart manufacturing plant in Barnard Castle, England, local news outlet Business Live reported Tuesday. Bankrolled by a £90 million ($110.45 million) investment, the facility—dubbed Q Block—will add another fixture to one of GSK’s biggest U.K. manufacturing sites, the publication said.

GSK is rolling out the latest tech at Q block, too. The plant is fully automated and leverages digitalization to streamline the manufacturing process. This in turn should allow GSK to 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.

Q Block test runs kicked off in 2020 and commercial production is expected to commence during the first half of 2023, the publication added.

Manufacturing will center around both new and existing biologics in GSK’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.

GSK did not immediately reply to Fierce Pharma’s request for comment on the plant opening.

While GSK has continued to infuse its Barnard Castle site with cash over the years, it hasn’t all been smooth sailing for staffers at the U.K. campus.

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

The move teed up the complete shutdown of GSK’s Ulverston site, which made Zinnat alongside the Barnard Castle campus. Barnard Castle, for its part, will continue to pump out other GSK drugs. The antibiotics production kibosh put 170 jobs there on the chopping block.