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Brexit could lead to supply chain delays, warns think tank

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By Angela Sharda
29 January 2018

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Medicines supplies could be disrupted after Brexit, a healthcare pressure group calling on politicians to put patients first has warned.

The Brexit Health Alliance said that unless a deal was reached for the UK withdrawal from the EU, medicines and medical technologies ‘could be delayed or even unavailable to patients’.

Medicines supplies could be disrupted after Brexit, a healthcare pressure group calling on politicians to put patients first has warned.

The Brexit Health Alliance said that unless a deal was reached for the UK withdrawal from the EU, medicines and medical technologies ‘could be delayed or even unavailable to patients’.

The group’s report on Brexit and the impact on patient access to medicines and medical technologies warned that those affected could include up to 120,000 patients throughout Europe with prostate cancer.

Their treatment could be affected if there is ‘no deal’ over future EU-UK co-operation on the regulation and trade of medicines, the Alliance warned.

It said that 350 people are involved in making the unnamed prostate cancer drug in the UK, with the process taking 12 months from the active pharmaceutical ingredient to pack release.

According to the report, the manufacturer is already planning duplication and quality control elsewhere in the EU, which could take 42 months or more. The Alliance said ‘The possibility of disruption to supply would be avoided through a continued agreement and mutual recognition on testing between the UK and EU.’

UK must not ‘lose out’

It also fears there will be delays in accessing new medicines and medical devices after the European Medicines Agency leaves London for Amsterdam, because of Brexit.

Currently the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Authority (MHRA) provides 20% of the assessments of new products for the EMA.

The Alliance suggested that the future of research into new medicines could also be affected if there is no plan to approve and manage multi-national trials with partners across Europe after the UK leaves the EU in March 2019.

Niall Dickson, who is co-chair of the Alliance, urged UK and EU Brexit negotiators to hammer out a co-operation agreement to regulate medicines and medical devices.

He said: ‘It is critical that UK and EU patients do not lose out on the best treatments and medical devices as the UK leaves the EU. 


‘We want to make sure that patients continue to benefit from early access to new health technologies and cutting-edge medicines, and that includes being able to take part in international clinical trials.’

He said negotiators need to ‘put patients first’.

He added: ‘This can be achieved if will is there – what patients need is maximum co-operation and alignment between the EU and the UK on the regulation of medicines and medical devices and we very much welcome the UK Government’s commitment to close collaboration with our European partners.’

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