SNP MSP for the South of Scotland Emma Harper has highlighted growing concerns over the potential impact that Brexit could have on access to new medicines once Britain leaves the European Union.
The former chairman of the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), Sir Alistair Breckenridge, has warned that if pharmaceutical firms have to obtain separate permissions for Britain, they would be likely to prioritise EMA applications for access to the much larger European market, while David Jeffreys, vice-president of Eisai – a Japanese drugs firm that employs 450 people in the UK – said British patients could face delays of up to two years.
“These are worrying statements from totally credible, experienced figures who know the issues surrounding access to new medicines in great detail. The argument they advance is a simple one – if the UK leaves the European Medicines Agency then it becomes a very small market by comparison with the rest of the EU or Asia.
“The relatively small size of the UK medicines market on its own, coupled with the likely need to gain separate permissions for new medicines or use in Britain leads them to believe that Britain would be likely to experience significant delays in accessing new medicines, some of which could be revolutionary and life-changing, of as much as 2 years.
“This should be of particular concern in Scotland since we have a regime for licensing new medicines which is highly effective, both through the Scottish Medicines Consortium and the New Medicines Fund, which was doubled from £40 million to £80 million in 2015.
“These concerns add to the lengthening list of Brexit problems, all of which need careful and serious consideration. Clever negotiations will need to be performed, which best represent the people living not only in the region but in the whole of Scotland – if not we run the risk of future detriment to our NHS.”