PRINCE Richard, the Duke of Gloucester, has presented Corsham-based pharmaceutical specials manufacturer Bath ASU with the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in the innovation category at a ceremony at the company’s headquarters.

The Duke was received by Wiltshire's Lord-Lieutenant, Mrs Sarah Rose Troughton, who introduced him to Chris Watt, the Chief Executive of Bath ASU; Company Director Maria Connolly; Professor Ian White, Vice-Chancellor and President of the University of Bath; Alistair Cunningham, Executive Director of Wiltshire Council and Rod Bell, Headteacher of The Corsham School.

The Duke was then taken on a tour of the company's headquarters on the Corsham Science Park before making the presentation to staff members Paula Seabrook and Kieran Grubb.

Mr Chris Watt said: “The company has grown rapidly in recent years and there are now about 275 people working here who arrive every morning with the greatest responsibility and who collectively do something very special.

"They make a vital contribution to creating and supplying essential medicines to patients who are gravely ill. Without the dedication and industry of every individual member of staff this simply would not be possible.

"This award is recognition of the commitment and hard work of all our magnificent staff who dedicate their working lives to helping people at a time of their lives when they absolutely depend on it.”

Paula was chosen to receive the award as one of the longest serving members of Bath ASU's staff and Kieran is a member of the company’s apprenticeship scheme.

Bath ASU has been recognised for improving treatment for patients, saving the NHS significant amounts of money and increasing the capacity of NHS hospital clinics.

The award has been made following Bath ASU’s success in extending the manufacturers’ shelf lives of biologic drugs, following years of dedicated work from a specifically assembled Research and Development team working with the University of Bath.

Biologics, including monoclonal antibodies, immunotherapies and targeted therapies, have been growing in importance for some years but suffer from a short shelf life, commonly as little as 8-24 hours for specialist treatments that can cost several thousand pounds each.

This was an inherent weakness that had a profound impact on patient outcomes and on the hospitals’ capacity and ability to treat patients effectively.

It also resulted in regular wastage of products that had to be disposed of and replaced because they expired without being administered to the patient.

Bath ASU established the R&D unit with private funding to try to find a way of extending the shelf lives of these products.

In order to achieve that it had to prove that it was technologically possible and change the way NHS hospitals operate. They succeeded in doing this after years of dedicated work.

The NHS Pharmaceutical Quality Assurance Committee ratified the approach by adopting a new standard, enabling Bath ASU to offer biologics to the market with shelf lives extended up to a maximum of 84 days.