Pharmaceuticals chief hits out at EU over lack of cooperation on medicine
THE head of the organisation representing the UK’s pharmaceutical industry has criticised the EU for creating red tape and refusing to help secure a Brexit deal that would ensure patients on both sides of the Channel get access to the medicines they need.
Mike Thompson, the chief executive of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, said the Government had set out in detail its desire to retain a relationship with the European Medicines Agency (EMA) after Brexit and to share data on medicines and diseases. However, the EU has not commented.
“This is despite the fact that Jeremy Hunt and Greg Clark a year ago made clear continued cooperation was the outcome the UK was looking for,” he said. “The EU has not responded to a single point and we have no insight into the response. We are five months away from a potential ‘no deal’ and everyone needs to put patients first.”
Mr Thompson said drug makers on both sides of the Channel have had to spend millions to ensure they are compliant with red-tape regulations.
Samples from batches of medicines must be tested for quality in an EU country to EU standards. While the Government has said medication manufactured on the continent can come to the UK without additional batch-testing after Brexit, the EU has not. The likes of AstraZeneca, GSK and Sanofi have spent hundreds of millions building additional lab capacity in Europe for duplicate batch-testing. “The UK Government’s decision to allow this was massive and increases our confidence about our ability to supply medication to British patients,” said Mr Thompson. “The EU has not followed and it is incredibly frustrating.
“The head of the European Medicines Agency said this week he believes there may be shortages of medications in Europe. The question we have for him is, if he believes this, why has he not followed the UK example and agreed that the 2,600 or so medicines made in the UK can also be recognised by the EMA without the need for additional batch-testing?
“Companies are starting to think strategically between the US, Europe and the Far East – and it’s much more likely investment will move to the US and China, and the loser would be Europe,” he added.
“The UK is the third-largest biopharmaceuticals research cluster outside the East and West coast of the US, and for that not to be connected to Europe strategically weakens Europe in terms of its attractiveness for investments.”