Intro

The pharmaceutical industry relies on developing medicines and products that benefit public health and the healthcare industry. The importance and the scale of this industry has been brought to the forefront of everyone’s mind, as we have all witnessed the work of UK scientists, technologists and researchers to overcome challenges faced by the COVID-19 crisis. The remarkable development of new vaccinations during this time is a clear example of R&D, but improvements in the efficiency of ventilators or production of hand sanitiser could also easily qualify as R&D. As the population continues to require new and improved methods of healthcare, the pharmaceuticals industry will continue to improve, with some specific examples outlined below.

Sector trends

Enhanced efficiency and implementation of new features

Finding new or more efficient production methods of medicines or machinery is a key role of the pharmaceutical industry and contains lots of opportunities for R&D. Adapting the manufacture of medical machinery to improve overall efficiency will also continue to grow the sector. It is also often required to implement new features into an existing product or develop a system with new properties to suit a client’s needs.

Investigation into new materials

It is often beneficial to investigate different materials that could be used in the production of medical machinery. To find improvements in design, perhaps by reducing construction/material costs, whilst ensuring the functionality requires R&D and will continue to be a trend in pharmaceuticals. This is likely to continue as people search for ways to improve the environmental impact of production whilst keeping up with the high standards demanded by the industry.

Example of R&D in the pharmaceutical industry

Development of anti-bacterial gels from alternative sources

The pharmaceutical industry undertakes intense R&D in the UK, with over £4 billion spent on R&D each year. The constant development of new and improved compounds and products sits very well within the government definition of R&D. The development of hand gels from alternative sources has been an example of some of the work undertaken recently. These hand gels had to be as effective as conventional hand gels but manufactured using materials from a distillery.

Conventional hand gels are produced using industrial-grade alcohols, with purity up to 99%. In order to achieve a hand gel with an equivalent efficacy using distillery-sourced alcohol, testing and reformulations had to be undertaken. Additives including thickeners and fragrances had to be altered to produce a product that was well received by consumers whilst also remaining cost effective.

What doesn’t qualify as R&D

Whilst market research can lead to R&D being undertaken based on the feedback, market research in itself is not R&D and would not be claimable. Work to make a product more cost-effective that was resolved easily would also be unlikely to qualify as R&D.

Finding new or more efficient production methods of medicines or machinery is a key role of the pharmaceutical industry and contains lots of opportunities for R&D. Adapting the manufacture of medical machinery to improve overall efficiency will also continue to grow the sector.

How can we help?

At Kene Partners, Dr Winnie Leung has extensive experience in the pharmaceutical sector and is able to use her background in chemistry to understand the challenges faced in-depth and tailor this to the BEIS guidelines. Book your free consultation to discover qualifying activities in your business and see how much your claim could be worth.

Dr Winnie Leung

R&D Tax Associate

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