Two leading British pharmaceutical companies, GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca, have created a task force aimed at dealing with the fallout of Brexit. Andrew Witty and Pascal Soriot – CEOs of GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca, respectively – will be joined by British life science minister George Freeman, in solving the issues stemming from Britain’s decision to exit the EU.
As there is no precedent set for Britain’s move, the decision is expected to have far-reaching implications into many of the country’s industries. Britain’s pharmaceutical sector in particular, will face some major changes in the coming years, as the European Medicines Agency (EMA) will most likely need to relocate from their London headquarters.
Britain could face significant challenges in establishing its own regulatory framework for pharmaceutical and medical device approvals, once the Brexit is complete. The country has also become a major source of pharmaceutical research and development – the future of which could be in jeopardy without access to the vast EU market.
The newly-formed Life Sciences Steering Group will work to promote and maintain Britain’s position in the global pharmaceuticals space. Before the vote, the British pharmaceutical industry was strongly in favour of remaining within the EU.
“[The group] will allow industry and government to work closely together over the coming period, particularly on areas such as regulatory standards, trade and people as the UK prepares to negotiate with the EU,” said a GlaxoSmithKline spokesperson. “We are committed to securing outcomes that will enable our industry to continue to make an important contribution to health and wealth in the U.K. and Europe, and deliver continued benefit to patients.”
The UK has yet to officially begin the process of seceding from the EU, the rules of which are laid out in Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty. “We believe that the UK remaining in the EU would be in the best interests of patients, our industry and our company, but we respect the democratic decision reached in this referendum,” said AstraZeneca.
According to the EMA, any decision to setup its head office outside of the UK would need to be agreed upon by all member states of the EU. Multiple countries – including France, Netherlands, Germany and Spain – have all made bids to host the regulatory authority in their capital cities.