In the wake of the UK’s decision to leave the EU – known as Brexit – Britain’s pharmaceutical industry is bracing for big changes in the market. After the results of the close vote were announced, the country’s trade organization known as the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry warned its members – including AstraZeneca and GlaxoSmithKline – of “immediate challenges” for the pharmaceutical industry.
The UK’s pharmaceutical industry could now face challenges in accessing the 500 million patients who are citizens of EU nations. Britain’s exit from the EU also calls into question the current regulatory framework for new and existing drug approvals in the country.
Despite the prediction that the majority of Britons would vote to stay in the 28-country bloc, the people voted in favour of the exit, 52 percent to 48 percent. Amid the currency and stock market reactions, British Prime Minister David Cameron announced his resignation.
It’s likely that the process of leaving the EU will be a long one for Britain, as there is no precedent for the move. The exit plan is likely to have an effect on the pharmaceutical and biotech sectors in Britain, in terms of the way they interact with the European Medicines Agency (EMA).
“Key questions about the regulation of medicine, access to the single market and talent, intellectual property and the precise nature of the future relationship of the UK with Europe are now upon us,” said Steve Bates, CEO of the UK BioIndustry Association, a trade group that was against Brexit. The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry commented that the vote “creates immediate challenges for future investment, research, and jobs in our industry in the UK.”
The EMA is currently located in London, and acts as the primary regulatory body for the pharmaceutical industry across the EU. With Britain soon to be an ex-member of the EU, it’s likely that the EMA will need to relocate.
“It is too early to foresee the implications of this decision and we will be in close contact with the EU institutions,” said an EMA spokesperson. “When we have concrete information, we will share it with our stakeholders.”