Understanding patients’ needs

As part of the NHS, Torbay Pharmaceuticals makes the most of the insight it gains, to create relevant products, distributed across the UK and abroad

Torbay Pharmaceuticals occupies a unique spot in the pharmaceutical industry. A manufacturer of injectable products, it serves both the commercial markets, and is part of Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust, which, given the scale of its work, is nothing short of impressive.

In the early days of its operation as part of the local NHS hospital in Torbay, the manufacturer was producing specialist medicines to meet local needs within the local trust and other hospitals near Torbay. “In 1980,” Technical Director, Mark Andrews tells us, “we realised that there was a higher demand for these locally produced drugs in a wider network within the NHS, which led us to manufacture more items for local hospitals in the entire South West Peninsula. We also built our own laboratories in 1983 to aid with the testing of these products.” Fast-forward to 1995, and the company had already begun to supply its drugs across acute hospitals throughout the whole of the UK. In that year, it procured and commissioned its own purpose-built manufacturing site in Paignton. “Three years later, in 1998, we had our first product licensed, and as of today, we have a total of eight licensed, and over 100 unlicensed medicines,” Mark comments.

In 2017, Torbay Pharmaceutical officially opened another manufacturing facility in Paignton, which completed a £26 million investment by the Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust. “It tripled our capacity, and allowed us to install and commission new state-of-the-art production equipment that will significantly improve our efficiency,” Mark details. “We used to be spread across three different sites in the past, but these have now been centralised into one location. It fits perfectly into our vision to establish a business culture of operations as one team, at one site, and with one mission.”

While injectable products represent the core of its manufacturing activities, the company also produces eye drops and oral solutions that are used in a hospital environment. “Another major arm of our organisation is the supplying of electrolyte ingredients for compounding, and we focus on pain relief and anaesthetics too,” Mark adds. “With the opening of the new facility, we will look at increasing our potential offerings. We are keen to develop our existing products, and explore new formats to present them in, such as pre-filled syringes, and polypropylene bags.”

Being part of the NHS is a distinguishable trait of Torbay Pharmaceuticals, which hugely contributes to the one-of-a-kind status of the business. Managing Director, Emma Rooth explains: “It gives us direct access to patients, and helps us understand better what is happening in the community, and in the acute care setting. The insight that we get enables us to see things from a patient’s point of view, and this is something few, if any, other companies are able to do. We are in direct contact with all of the consultants within the organisation, so we can simply go straight to them, and ask them about anything we need to know. Thanks to our work with the trust, we are capable of providing an end-to-end service,” Emma notes, emphasising Torbay Pharmaceuticals’ ability to streamline its own processes, and plan the delivery of more efficient solutions to patients. “Naturally, it is a two-way street, so the revenue we generate, goes back into the trust to support people in the local community.”

Recent expansion has allowed Torbay Pharmaceuticals to focus on developing the export side of the business, owing to the increased capacity that accompanies a surge in contract manufacturing. Currently, the share of the products exported by the company amounts to between ten and 15 per cent. Emma sheds light on the key overseas markets for the organisation: “We mainly export to Canada, Australia, New Zealand and the Middle East, but we also supply products into the EU. Following our export strategy, we will be shortly targeting other Commonwealth countries.”

Discussing the growth of exports, Emma pinpoints several reasons for the elevated interest from overseas: “We are a license holder for certain products in the UK, which means that there are few companies like us elsewhere in the world. We can also draw on our vast experience in the total parenteral nutrition (TPN) market, where we manufacture a wide portfolio of electrolyte ingredients, which adds further value to our proposition. And, of course, being associated with the NHS helps a lot, because it is a hugely respected organisation and brand all over the world, and people come to trust it, and the values it promotes,” she analyses.

“We want to develop a long-term stable industry for the NHS, which will enable it to provide better patient care,” answers Emma, when asked about the future objectives ahead of Torbay Pharmaceuticals. “We are planning to do that through signing the right manufacturing agreements. It is important for us to attract the right type of partner, who can use our capacity and take our products to bigger markets, but who also believes in the NHS values. We are currently working on two significant partnership opportunities, so we are acting according to the plan.”

Torbay Pharmaceuticals
Services: Manufacturer of UK-licensed sterile injectable, unlicensed essential pharmaceutical products, and a range of CE-marked devices