The UK could face disruption to its supply of medicines and medical technologies after it leaves the European Union, a new report has suggested.
In a briefing paper, The Brexit Health Alliance warns that unless an appropriate exit deal is reached, medicines and medical technologies could be delayed in reaching patients or even become unavailable.
The alliance brings together the NHS, medical researchers, industry, patients and public health organisations. It aims to “safeguard the interests of patients and the healthcare and research they rely on”.
A prostate cancer medicine – made in a highly sophisticated process in the UK and used in 80 countries including all of Europe – is one of many medicines the report says risks supply disruption from a “no deal” scenario.
It suggests the future of research into new medicines and medical technologies could also be affected.
Around 750 UK-led clinical trials including multiple EU member states could be at risk if there is no plan on how to approve and manage these multi-national trials with European partners after March 2019, the paper concludes.
Niall Dickson, co-chair of the Brexit Health Alliance, 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.
“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.
“Let’s put patients first – both the UK government and European Commission must make this cooperation priority in the interests of UK and EU patients.”
The Brexit Health Alliance was formally launched last June. Founding members include the NHS Confederation – at whose 2017 conference the Alliance was officially announced – and the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, NHS Providers and the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges.