Experts have warned that leaving the EU can mean that it takes many months longer for the new drugs and medical devices to become available in the United Kingdom and reduce Britain’s influence on how these products are regulated.
Currently, the European Medicines Agency that approves new medicines along with medical devices across Europe is based in London. However, speaking at a press conference in London, a group of scientists have stated that if Brexit goes ahead, the EMA may relocate to mainland Europe, which will leave Britain without a voice when it comes to how the medical products are regulated. The MHRA plays a vital role in the regulation process by conducting around forty percent of the scientific evaluations that is used by the EMA for approving new products.
The scientists also raised some concerns that Brexit can mean that pharmaceutical companies may have to once again register huge numbers of drugs for UK. The challenge being that the MHRA is not currently in a position to take on the burden of regulation if the approval of drugs in the UK is no longer down to the EMA. They went on to state that they would have to enlarge themselves hugely because they would have to evaluate all the new drugs. They commented that companies would expect to pay much less to have a drug approved for the UK; currently the approval in one European country means a new drug can be used throughout Europe.
The chief scientific officer of the pharmaceutical company BTG plc, Melanie Lee stated that if they leave they need to be very aware of the size of the UK market and the attractiveness of Britain outside of Europe in their industry. Lee added that they are three percent of the global market, whereas if they are with the EU they are twenty seven percent of the global market.
The president of pharmaceutical research and development at GlaxoSmithKline, Patrick Vallance stated that there are concerns that Brexit would make it more challenging to look for side effects from new drugs and the devices, and it could also take much longer for new products to appear on the market in the UK. He went on to state that for those countries that are not a part of the EU, on average it takes much longer to get new medicines approved. It takes on an average around 150 days longer for a country like Switzerland, and it would take Canada around 140 days more.