Global manufacturing “fundamental” for drug supply chain, says ABPI Chief Executive

The ABPI’s Dr Richard Torbett, speaking to the International Trade Committee, said the COVID-19 pandemic highlights the need for a globalised drug supply chain.

Global drug supply chain

The Chief Executive of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), Dr Richard Torbett, has told the International Trade Committee that the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic shows why resilient, global supply of medicines is so important.

Dr Torbett gave evidence for the Committee’s inquiry into the COVID-19 pandemic and international trade. He explained that the industry often relies on global supply chains and why having medicine supply and production spread out across the globe allows manufacturers to adjust as needed, ensure greater stability and mitigate potential shortages and disruptions.

Speaking after the evidence session, Dr Richard Torbett said: “With around 12,000 medicines used by the National Health Service (NHS) it would be impossible for the UK to be in position to manufacture all of the medicines it needs. No country operates in this way for good reason. Robust global supply chains are fundamental for ensuring the NHS continues to get the medicines it needs and we need to make sure this continues. Coronavirus has shown us that they cope incredibly well in the face of a crisis, but we must be vigilant.”

Dr Torbett added that future government policy must ensure the UK is as attractive as possible for the next wave of manufacturing innovation, so that the country can play a vital part within the global supply chain.

“While the UK must continue to be a voice for global co-operation and the fair distribution of medicines, it’s also vital for the UK life sciences and the economy that we continue to maintain and grow our medicines and health technology manufacturing capability here. When next generation manufacturing is looking for a home, we need to make sure the UK stands out. That means investing in infrastructure and talent, but also having a future trade agenda which supports free trade. Protectionist measures only undermine the supply chain resilience that has been so vital during this pandemic,” said Dr Torbett.