Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals chief hits out at EU over lack of co­op­er­a­tion on medicine

The Daily Telegraph - Business - - Business - By Ju­lia Brad­shaw

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.”

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