Sector News

AstraZeneca to expand largest UK site in boost ahead of Brexit

August 28, 2017
Life sciences

FTSE 100 drugs giant AstraZeneca is planning to ramp up production at its biggest manufacturing site in Britain, in a boost for the country’s stalling life sciences industry.

The investment at its 3,500-strong Macclesfield campus in the North West of England – thought to be in the tens of millions of pounds – is set to be announced this week to coincide with the launch of the Government’s life sciences industrial strategy. It will increase capacity at AstraZeneca’s existing £150m factory on the site which is struggling to meet exploding demand for prostate and breast cancer drug Zoladex from Asia.

The facility employs 300 people. The commitment is likely to surprise investors. Only a month ago Pascal Soriot, chief executive, warned he had put all capital investment decisions on ice due to Brexit uncertainty, including the Macclesfield facility project.

Mr Soriot had said: “The product [Zoladex] is selling more than forecast so, soon enough, we have to decide what we do.”

But Andy Evans, head of AstraZeneca’s Macclesfield operations, told The Sunday Telegraph the firm was now poised to invest. The planned project will cheer ministers as they prepare to reboot the Government’s industrial strategy in Birmingham on Wednesday, with the £60bn life sciences sector first in line for a boost.

A report, authored by Sir John Bell, Canadian-British immunologist and geneticist, will lay out proposals to boost the 220,000-strong UK drugs sector through new investment and cutting red tape.

It comes amid calls for the Government to do more to support the sector ahead of Brexit, with industry experts warning capital investment more broadly has been hit by uncertainty around future trade rules and regulation.

Last week drugmakers, including AstraZeneca, published a paper calling on the public sector to invest up to £140m in three new drug manufacturing “centres of excellence” to stimulate the industry and help reverse a long-term decline in UK pharmaceutical ­exports.

By Iain Withers

Source: The Telegraph

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