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Pharmaceutical companies continue to express concerns surrounding Brexit

Since the UK voted to leave the European Union, the pharmaceutical industry has worked strenuously to tackle the long-term challenges this might represe...

Catherine Sturman
|Dec 22|magazine8 min read

Since the UK voted to leave the European Union, the pharmaceutical industry has worked strenuously to tackle the long-term challenges this might represent. With limited knowledge surrounding whether the UK would be heading for hard Brexit until recently, the industry has been working somewhat in the dark in the building of contingency plans, costing thousands in revenue.

The EU and UK have recently agreed on the first preliminary stages, yet the second stage of talks will then incorporate the pharmaceutical industry and how the 27 remaining EU states will collaborate with the UK in the development, importation and exportation of essential medical treatments.

The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) has stated: “As we now focus on phase two of the negotiations, it is now crucial that the regulation and supply of medicines for UK and EU patients is prioritised. A co-operation agreement between the UK and the EU on medicines is the best way to ensure that there is no disruption to 500mn patients receiving the medicines that they need.”

At present, 45 million packs of medicines leave Britain each month, with 37 million being imported.

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“Currently, with the uncertainty of the negotiations as we have them, we’re leaving patients scratching their heads, hoping that somebody has a plan in place,” Virginia Acha, a member of EFPIA’s Taskforce on Brexit, informed the European Parliament’s environment and health committee, Bloomberg has previously reported. 

“We’ve already had since Article 50 a full three quarters of the year where we’ve been waiting to have the discussions and we really can’t wait longer,” she continued.

The Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee has also recently published evidence in a new enquiry surrounding the impact Brexit may have on the industry. With input from the Association of British Healthcare Industries, the British Generic Manufacturers Association, and many more, it highlights rising concerns surrounding escalating drug prices and any new potential barriers to the development of new drugs. It could have the potential to hinder any investment into new research and significantly affect drug supply chains.

Additionally, the European Medicines Agency is set to relocate from London to Amsterdam, to the dismay of the UK government, costing over €400mn.

Nonetheless, pharmaceutical companies will need significant time to prepare, with a transition deal being essential to mitigate any potential risk to patients.