UK’s Pharmaceutical Industry Warns Brexit Could Put Patients at Risk

Leading companies in the UK’s pharmaceutical industry have warned that Europe’s supply of essential medicines could be disrupted if Britain’s exit from the European Union does not go smoothly.


In a letter to Michel Barnier, chief EU negotiator, and David Davis, the UK Brexit secretary, pharmaceutical industry leaders wrote, “In the case of an unorderly withdrawal there is a risk that all goods due to be moved between the UK and EU could be held either at border checks, in warehouses or manufacturing and/or subject to extensive retesting requirements.” It said that this could lead to a severe disruption of most companies’ supply chains, which would lead to potential supply disruptions of life-saving medicines.”


It also says that it’s critical for companies within the pharmaceutical industry to have sufficient time to prepare for Brexit, emphasizing the importance of striking a deal that allows them this. An early deal, the leaders write, is essential to “avoid any adverse impact on public health and patient safety.”


The letter was signed by the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) and other major pharmaceutical industry organizations, including the BioIndustry Association, the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations, and EuropaBio.


The UK’s pharmaceutical industry is currently regulated under EU law and is highly integrated across Europe. The leaders say that they would like to explore the possibility of maintaining close regulatory ties between Europe and the UK. They also state that authorizations to market medicines, granted by the European Commission while the UK was still a part of the EU, should continue to apply post-Brexit.


The letter says that the industry needs “as much certainty as possible, as early as possible” in order to ensure critical, life-saving drugs remain available and that shortages are avoided.


Official Brexit talks began this week in Brussels, and will involve a four-day series of negotiations to decide upon the specifics of Brexit, including how many of the UK’s EU-integrated industries will be regulated going forward. European Union leaders will decide in late October whether or not the UK has made sufficient progress on its exit for trade talks to begin.


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