That Something Special.

Reliably and consistently manufacturing and delivering unlicensed medicines (Specials) to pharmacists across the UK in just 24 hours sets The Specials Lab apart. From part-time credit controller to managing director of The Specials Lab in six years sets Sharon Griffiths apart. No surprise, then, that together they are enjoying great success.

Based across three MHRA-licensed sites in Northumberland, The Specials Lab’s core business is manufacturing and supplying ‘Specials’ to community and hospital pharmacists and doctors throughout the UK and Ireland.


The difference a day makes

Specials are for patients who have a medical condition that needs treated by a non-standard licensed product. The majority of products manufactured are, therefore, tailor-made to meet the specific medical needs of an individual patient. Remarkably, most Specials are made and delivered by its expert team within just 24 hours of the order being placed.

Adapt or die

The fast-growth organisation currently employs 125 people and continues to adapt to the ever changing and challenging market conditions. Its success is largely due to this adaption to the changing – and demanding – economic climate. Over the last few years, it has invested heavily in launching two NHS-focused services to help increase efficiency, reduce cost and improve patient care in hospitals. And in 2010 it launched a veterinary manufacturing service to support vet surgeries that need an unlicensed medicine for animals. It now also supplies ‘Special Obtain’ items to help pharmacists when they need a medicine that is not a regular line and might be hard to source.

Says managing director Sharon Griffiths, “We also manufacture investigational medicinal products for use in NHS-based clinical trials. And our over labelling service involves the supply of medicines pre-labelled with a hospital’s own design, helping them cut down waiting time for patients in pressurised situations such as out of hours dispensing.”

Meteoric rise

Sharon joined The Specials Lab in 2002 in a part-time credit control role. Her natural drive and people-focused ethos was instantly recognised and she quickly progressed through the ranks to become general manager in 2006, and then managing director in 2008, aged just 32 years old, when the company was sold to United Drug.

At a time when the industry benchmark was 48-hour delivery, Sharon led the charge to ensure The Specials Lab was ahead of the game by making and delivering medicines in just 24 hours.

Her passionate personality and rise through the ranks typifies the vibrant culture at The Specials Lab, which revolves around staff welfare, development and progression.

In many ways, the real secret to our success has been our passionate people, continued investment in staff training and ensuring the business retains its culture,” says Sharon.

With over a decade of managerial and financial experience, Sharon is focused on nurturing the senior management team to ensure staff at every level are supported and motivated to meet the company’s customer, financial, production, quality and strategic targets.

In recognition of her tremendous achievements at the company, Sharon was crowned Young Achiever of the Year at The North East of England Process Industry Cluster (NEPIC) Awards 2007, and profiled in The Journal’s prestigious Monday Business Interview in 2010.
Striving for continuous professional development, she is currently completing her studies for an Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) qualification to become a chartered accountant.

It’s an example of a perfect fit that’s led to an incredible success story. Sharon has led The Specials Lab to a position of leadership with an outstanding reputation within the industry. And just as importantly, it enjoys excellent relations with thousands of pharmacies and hospitals across the UK. These customers know that when they call The Specials Lab the service they will receive from order to delivery will be first class – and next day.


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