Michael Gove told to promote ‘crucial’ medicines industry as Levelling Up ‘success story’
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Speaking exclusively to Express.co.uk, Mark Samuels, chief executive of the British Generic Manufacturers Association, which represents companies that provide 80 percent of the NHS’s medicine, said UK medicine producers were already bringing “high-valued, high-skilled” jobs to Levelling Up areas. This was largely because “no company is going to build a manufacturing plant in the centre of London”.
It comes as Mr Gove – the minister charged with improving areas of the country that had been neglected – published new draft legislation on Wednesday.
The new act put before Parliament focused mainly on planning and local government, but allows for the secretary of state to make further provisions.
However, part of the Government’s levelling up ambition is to bring well-paying jobs to areas of economic decline.
This is something British manufacturers of generic medicines – those that are unpatented – are already doing, Mr Samuels said.
In the wake of the coronavirus pandemic, last June Boris Johnson pledged to restore the UK as a “science superpower”, funnelling investment into research and public-private partnerships to work on breakthroughs such as the vaccine.
At the time, the Prime Minister said he wanted to spark “a growth that goes beyond the golden triangle of Oxford-London-Cambridge and across the whole country.
“We want the UK to regain its status as a science superpower, and in so doing to level up.”
When put to Mr Samuels that the UK medicines industry could be part of this bright vision of Britain’s future and a favoured export, Mr Samuels said: “Well it should be.
“Because if you work in a manufacturing facility for one of our [member] companies, those are high-skilled jobs, they’re usually people who are, say, an engineering graduate with three years’ post-grad experience – these are high-valued, high-skilled jobs.
“They’re all in Levelling Up areas, because no company is going to build a manufacturing plant in the centre of London; they’re going to build it in Barnstaple, or Leeds, or Wrexham.
“There’s good alignment between where our companies sit, levelling up and the life science superpower, high-skilled jobs that the Government wants.”
Asked if the British generics manufacturing sector was something that Mr Gove should be promoting, he responded: “Yeah he should, because it’s such a critical sector for all of us.”
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The health chief added: “It’s one of the most crucial sectors in the country and it already has high value jobs across the country.
“So yes, I think it’s something Michael Gove should be pleased to shout about it as a UK success.”
Announcing his intention for the UK to be at the forefront of scientific innovation, Mr Johnson remarked it had been “little short of miraculous” that Oxford and AstraZeneca had been able to discover a coronavirus vaccine with such speed.
He added it was “also something of a miracle that it took place here at all”.
Mr Samuels revealed that as part of the effort to stand up production of the vaccine, AstraZeneca had needed extra manufacturing capacity in the UK, and so relied on one of the BGMA’s members.
He said: “The bulk of the UK vaccines programme was manufactured in Wrexham by one of our companies.”
When asked to comment, a Government spokesperson said: “Our Levelling Up agenda sets out how we’re going to support high-growth business and reverse the historic decline of manufacturing, creating jobs and putting money in the pockets of people in every corner of the UK.
“We’re supporting British manufacturing by leveraging £1.5billion across the renewables supply chain, backing our automotive sector through new gigafactories, attracting new offshore wind manufacturers to the UK, and investing millions in helping SMEs to increase productivity.”
Express.co.uk understands that the Government’s Office for Life Sciences will provide £60million in capital grants for investments in medicine manufacturing and diagnostics in the UK.
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