Prime Minister, Theresa May is to invoke Article 50 on 29 March 2017 and begin negotiating the UK’s exit from the EU. We now know this should come to fruition by March 2019, leaving much uncertainty as to the real impact it will have on UK commerce, including the drugs industry both at home and overseas. It is, however likely to have quite far reaching consequences across the board, including on early drug research and development, where it appears the UK may be excluded from EU clinical trials reforms. This will undoubtedly make the UK less attractive to the trials market due to higher costs than EU counterparts. Similarly, full scale commercial manufacturing will be affected, particularly as the UK has been a major beneficiary of grants from the European Research Council. Brexit will, it seems, cause the erosion of such grants in future, including exclusion from EU programmes that would have been worth billions of pounds to UK research organisations otherwise.
Brexit also signals increased workloads for UK regulatory bodies such as The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) which, it is expected, will also have less influence over EU establishments such as The European Medicines Agency, currently based in London, but almost certainly to relocate to an EU member state now Brexit is in full swing. Equally, the Home Office, responsible for licensing activities with controlled drugs and chemicals used in pharmaceutical research and production, will be looking at reforms to some long standing regulations. Add to the mix Nicola Sturgeon’s Scottish National Party’s intention to hold a second referendum on Scottish independence and one wonders what ramifications that might have for the industry both north and south of the border should it come to pass.
Interesting times ahead!