BREXIT: Putting Patients First

As the EU leaders gather in Brussels on 25 November 2018 to endorse the withdrawal agreement and political declaration outlining the terms of the UK’s exit from the European Union, as an industry, we continue to prepare contingencies for every scenario. While for most sectors the issues are primarily economic, for the healthcare sector the primary concerns are patient safety and public health.
There is no doubt that from our sector’s perspective the deal on the table is infinitely better than the UK leaving the European Union with no deal in place. Not least because the deal provides a transition period that gives some time for member companies to continue to adapt to new regulatory requirements, manufacturing and supply issues including customs arrangements to ensure an uninterrupted supply of medicines to patients.  The transition period also allows multi-national companies with international workforces in the UK and the EU to manage the implications for staff.
The scale of the task should not be underestimated; around 45 million packs of medicines leave the UK destined for patients in Europe every month with 37 million packs heading the opposite way.  In total that is around 1 billion packs of medicine crossing the border between the UK and the EU each year.  Given the uncertainty around the terms of the UK’s future relationship with the EU and the primary importance of protecting patients, our industry has invested heavily in ensuring that companies are prepared for every eventuality.
Following its publication today, we are encouraged by the revised political declaration’s commitment to a “free trade area combining deep regulatory and customs cooperation”and the additional reference to explore “the possibility of cooperation of United Kingdom authorities with Union agencies such as the European Medicines Agency (EMA)”.  As an industry we continue to emphasise the need to address medicines-related issues in the political declaration considering their vital importance to patients and patient safety. 
As the withdrawal agreement and political declaration are being fine-tuned in both Brussels and London, our hope is that the deal is accepted and then immediate and intense focus is given to regulation and supply of medicines in the post-Brexit relationship.  We, along with many others in the healthcare community and across the life sciences sector, believe that an explicit commitment to securing long-term, extensive cooperation around the regulation of medicines and medical technologies is in the best interests of patients and public health.

Nathalie Moll

Nathalie Moll joined the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) as Director...
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