GlaxoSmithKline says it will invest £25 million to expand in Scotland, specifically to bring production of ingredients for four new pharmaceutical products to its facility in Montrose.

The investment will create an additional 25 new jobs for process technicians, engineers and chemists,  bringing the total GSK workforce in Scotland to more than 750. Also, 50 contractors will be employed during the construction phase.

The company is not giving any specifics about which drugs will be manufactured at the site, although a spokesman told PharmaTimes that they will be in the respiratory and oncology areas. Currently, older respiratory drugs are produced at Monstrose, as well as HIV/AIDS treatments.

This latest cash injection comes on top of GSK’s pledge in 2012 to invest £100 million in Montrose and its other Scottish manufacturing site in Irvine, which produces antibiotics. The Scottish government also notes that in recent years, the company has also invested some £40 million "in bringing technology and capability to Scotland that was previously undertaken overseas".

Roger Connor, president of global manufacturing and supply at the drugs giant, said that "our teams in Montrose and Irvine are world class and have worked hard to bring new facilities to the two sites". Noting that Montrose "will work alongside our sister site in Singapore to meet international demand for some of the world’s most important medicines", he added that "ours is a fast-moving and competitive environment and the investment should be seen as a vote of confidence in the skills, standards and drive of the people who work here".

GSK is the largest pharmaceutical company in Scotland in terms of employment and investment and contributes £80 million annually to the country's economy. The Scottish government noted that in addition to t£2.7 million already ringfenced by Angus Council, Scottish Enterprise is also backing the expansion by awarding the council £1.5 million to improve access into the GSK site and the area around it.

Meantime, the US.Food and Drug Administration has approved GSK's Pandemrix for use in the event of an H5N1 bird flu epidemic.

The vaccine is to be added to the national stockpile, the agency notes, and will not be made available commercial use. It is the first adjuvanted vaccine, i.e. one that enhances the immune response of the vaccinated individual, to be approved in the USA for H5N1

Karen Midthun, director of the FDA’s Center for Biologics Evaluation and Research, said the vaccine could be used in the event that the H5N1 avian influenza virus "develops the capability to spread efficiently from human to human, resulting in the rapid spread of disease across the globe".