Brexit: no drugs for UK based patients
By Talha Soluoko
Word is there might be delay in getting new important drugs, including anti-cancer drugs for patients in the United Kingdom [UK], due to the Brexit issue.
Ministers have been warned that if Britain withdraws from the European medicines regulatory body-European medicines agency [EMA], patients in the UK could face delays getting new drugs.
Sir Alasdair Breckenridge, a former chairman of the medicines and healthcare products regulatory agency [MHRA], was reported to have said that “the UK market compared to the European market of course is small and they may decide not to come to the United Kingdom. Therefore there will be delay in getting new drugs-important new drugs, anti-cancer drugs and anti-infective drugs for patients in the UK”
David jeffreys, who also speaks for the association of the British pharmaceutical industry [APBI], said “the early innovative medicines will be applied for in the USA, in japan and throughout the European system and the UK will be in the second or indeed the third wave so UK patients may be getting medicines, 12 to 24 months later than they would if we remained in the European system.”
The EMA is the body based in UK charged with authorizing drugs for use across the EU. Since it expected to leave after the Brexit, health secretary Jeremy hunt said in January that he did not expect the UK to remain within the EMA. To this, the department of health is of opinion that companies could be slower to seek permission for Britain alone, because they may need to pay for a separate assessment of their products for use in the country. These concerns were echoed by the current MHRA chairman Michael Rawlins, who said the UK could be at the back of the queue behind the likes of the EU, USA, and japan when new drugs are introduced.
In this regard standing alone as a regulator could be a ‘pain in the ass’ for Britain as they are only 3% of the world market for new drugs and if they are not careful their frontline position would be displaced and they would be at the back of the queue. Jeffrey’s who is also the vice president of Eisai-a Japanese drugs firm-complementing what he said earlier about the UK not remaining in the EMA, said further that they wanted the UK to agree a co-operation deal with the EMA, even if it did not remain part of the EU system. Former CEO of the MHRA sir Kent woods, said he believed an agreement could be reached between the UK and the EU for drug regulation in the future.
The department of health said ensuring patients have timely access to safe and effective medicines remains a top priority of the government. A spokeswoman added: “we are already taking action to ensure the UK will continue to be a leader in this regard and our cross agency Brexit taskforce is considering the future regulatory roles the MHRA could adopt.” There are even speculations that Brexit could be a blessing in disguise as the department can assess means of making drugs available even faster for UK patients, although this remains to be seen.