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Tomorrow’s medicines will demand an ever closer integration of development science and technology with manufacturing. The UK is the place to make them.

Pharmaceuticals in the UK

The UK has a long track record of cost-effective and compliant medicines manufacturing from leading global companies and has specialised national networks in high value manufacturing (HVM).

• All of the leading pharmaceutical corporations operating in the global market have a presence in the UK.


• Approximately 1,300 companies are involved in this area.


• The sector accounts for nearly 10% (Gross Value Added) of all UK manufacturing.
• More UK-based business research and development is conducted by the pharmaceuticals sector alone than any other manufacturing sector.


• Pharmaceutical manufacturing comprises more than 20% of all business research and development in the UK.


• Sector exports are more than 30 billion GBP.

Pharmaceutical regulation in the UK is the responsibility of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). It is recognised globally as an authority in its field and its Innovation Office helps businesses clarify product regulatory requirements and find faster routes to market.

More information on pharmaceutical manufacturing in the UK can be found here.

Pharmaceuticals in the Thames Valley 

The South-East has one of the largest concentrations of biopharmaceutical companies in the UK, with many of the leading organisations having a base in the Thames Valley.

“Bracknell is a great location for our business. It gives us access to an exceptionally rich and diverse talent pool, and we have quick access to travel links if required”.


Uday Bose, UK & Ireland Country Managing Director and Head of Human Pharma

Improving the health and quality of life for patients and animals is the purpose of innovation-driven pharmaceutical company, Boehringer Ingelheim (BI). Family-owned since it was established in 1885, BI is one of the industry’s top 20 companies globally, boasting a transformative portfolio of current and future medicines in human pharmaceuticals, animal health and biopharma. In 2019, Boehringer Ingelheim achieved net global sales of around €19 billion and their investment in research corresponded to 18.5% of net sales. With their corporate headquarters in Ingelheim, Germany, the company has approximately 50,000 employees worldwide.


BI has been established in the UK for 58 years, with headquarters in Bracknell, Berkshire. On BI’s Thames Valley location, Uday Bose, UK & Ireland Country Managing Director and Head of Human Pharma since November 2018, said:
“Bracknell is a great location for our business. It gives us access to an exceptionally rich and diverse talent pool, and we have quick access to travel links if required. The Thames Valley is home to a thriving life sciences community, and through the support of our local Chamber of Commerce, we are able to exchange valuable insights with business peers, helping each of us strengthen and grow.”

Commenting on BI’s response and contribution during the COVID-19 pandemic, Uday explained that it had been compassionate and wide ranging through the organisation’s Global Support programme. This includes making available 7m euros for financial and in-kind donations for local emergency aid; for example, protective masks, disinfectants, inhalers and medicines.


Uday added: “We have fantastic researchers across the world, with 100 scientists working over 11,000 lab hours trying to support and help the efforts to fight COVID-19. Locally we have offered resources and donations, especially in the charitable sector that has really struggled during the pandemic. We have supported Action for Pulmonary Fibrosis to produce a series of videos to support vulnerable patients who self-isolated.


BI does not have a human virology business, but offers its science, technology and experts to initiatives that are aimed at finding medical solutions to the virus. Knowledge and expertise are being shared through active engagements of ongoing projects of institutional consortia, including the Innovative Medicines Initiative of the European Union. The company also joined the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation COVID-19 Therapeutic Accelerator.


Uday added “We are also screening our entire molecule library of over one million compounds to identify potential molecules that could fight the virus. We are enabling researchers to experiment through open access to our library. Our philosophy is open innovation and partnering in healthcare.”


Uday also reflected on how one of the few highlights of the current crisis is renewed appreciation for the tremendous role of the National Health Service (NHS). “Last year the NHS launched its 10-year plan, which for the first time in history provided a longer term strategic view of our health service. There is no doubt the plan will evolve – for example, the life sciences sector and its R & D will be even more important post-Brexit – as will building a diagnostics industry following the COVID-19 crisis.”



Belgian pharmaceutical giant UCB will be investing £1 billion in R&D over the next five years, including £150-200 million in a new state-of-the-art facility near their existing R&D base in Slough, which will house an early manufacturing site and a hub for UK commercial operations and support around 650 high-skilled jobs.


The decision was announced as part of the Government’s recently published Life Sciences Sector Deal 2.


Alnylam, one of the most promising US biotechnology companies, recently opened its European Drug Development and Commercial Headquarters in Maidenhead. The leading corporate exponent of RNAi therapeutics (RNA interference), which makes it possible to “silence” disease-causing genes; its pioneering drug, patisiran (branded as Onpattro) was recently authorised for use in the EU.


German-owned Bayer, one of the world’s top ten pharmaceutical companies, which operates in the small molecule segment, has its UK Headquarters in Reading, having recently relocated within the region.


At the beginning of October, Bayer opened their flagship LifeHub UK, in Reading, to add to the company’s growing network of innovation hubs.

A number of leading companies specialising in the manufacture of vaccines including:

Sanofi Pasteur


Sanofi Pasteur is the vaccines division of the multinational pharmaceutical company Sanofi. Sanofi Pasteur is the largest company in the world devoted entirely to vaccines.



Seqirus is one of the largest influenza vaccine companies in the world and a major partner in the prevention and control of influenza globally. Seqirus have also established an operational hub in the region.

Included among the biopharmaceutical businesses in Oxfordshire are a number of spin-outs from the University of Oxford, such as:


Adaptimmune and Immunocore, both of which are working on T-cell responses to cancer and are rapidly scaling up.


Oxford BioMedica, a leading gene and cell therapy group, which announced its scheduled expansion for 2019 into new offices in Oxford. The new facility will more than double the bioprocessing capacity of the Group and create up to 100 new, highly skilled positions over the next two years, safeguarding the company’s market-leading position.