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Could climate change benefit Ireland’s pharma industry, by prompting relocation?

Could climate change benefit Ireland’s pharma industry, by prompting relocation?

Published on: Tuesday, 03 May 2011

PWC released the latest publication “Supplying the Future” in their Pharma 2020 series at the end of February. They predict major changes in the pharma manufacturing and distribution supply chain, and offer four potential models for the future. The replacement of the blockbuster by multiple, smaller market, products will require changes in how the sector is configured. This news item will deal with some of the more technical aspects raised in the paper, which can be downloaded from the PWC site here. But first, one possibly unexpected point:
Climate change will prompt relocation of plants to areas that are less exposed to severe weather events. Singapore is identified as one area at risk. Will this benefit Ireland?

Manufacturing facilities
Ireland has a number of flexible, modular plants, but also some plants that were designed and constructed in anticipation of new products achieving high volumes. PWC predict the future to be:

  • Flexible processes and miniaturised, modular components
  • The conventional process of scaling up will also be replaced by ‘numbering up’ – i.e., using microreactors in parallel arrays.
  • Widespread use of disposable technologies
  • By 2020, most medicines will also be manufactured continuously.

More sophisticated data management and process control
Increasing computational power, in-process measurement and a greater technical understanding will lead to more advanced modeling. “Virtual” design and validation of processes is suggested, with extensive acquisition of data via process analytical technologies (PAT) in development and operation. This data will be used to build complex multivariate models that will be used to control the plant and minimize disturbances.

Sustainable eco-friendly processes
Societal pressures to reduce the environmental footprint of manufacturing and distribution processes will continue and water consumption will be a new focus, with a likely consequent increased taxation on the use of water resources.

A concise summary of the report and the full report itself are available on the PWC site here, with a detailed discussion about the potential reorganisation of the existing supply chain structure.