Commons committee head warns Brexit may push up cost of medicines in the UK

04 Dec 2017


The head of a committee of the UK Parliament's lower house, the House of Commons, has warned that Brexit may affect the cost of medicines and hit UK pharmaceutical investment.

According to Rachel Reeves, who chairs the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) committee, access to new medical products may also be at risk.

She said the uncertainty around Brexit was "very concerning", as MPs prepare to examine its effects on the industry.

They include the sector's access to highly skilled workers after the UK leaves the EU.

The evidence MPs had received suggested Brexit could threaten "the cost of medicines, investment in the UK and access to new and innovative research and products," she added.

"There are serious concerns raised around the future regulation of pharmaceuticals, mutual recognition of medicines, and the prospect of damaging disruption to cross-EU drug supply chains," BBC quoted her as saying.

"This is very concerning, with uncertainty risking the UK becoming a less desirable place for investment and development in a growing, productive industry.

"We are keen to examine the detail of these concerns and to hear from the industry what it wants from the government to ensure the smoothest possible transition as we leave the EU."

Brexit would see the relocation of the European Medicines Agency from London to Amsterdam.

Several drugmakers, including AstraZeneca, Johnson & Johnson, Roche and Merck have outlined their concerns in evidence submitted to the business select committee's investigation into the potential impact of Brexit.

The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), a body representing the UK's £63 billion life sciences sector, has also voiced concerns over the potential impact of a chaotic withdrawal from the EU.

According to commentators, the fears could have implications for the government's launch of a sector deal containing millions of pounds worth of support for life sciences firms as early as this week, under Theresa May's industrial strategy.

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