The Ides of May: Britain Loses Crucial Medicines Contract As EU Anticipates Brexit Failure

Brexit, British Politics, Economics, Health, Rundown, Trade

In the “Ides of March”, a soothsayer warned Julius Caesar that bad things will happen to him in March. Perhaps the United Kingdom could have used a soothsayer to warn the British that bad things will happen to them if they elect Prime Minister Theresa May.

PM May was the chief Architect of the U.K’s exit from the European Union. With the exit date approaching in 2019, there has been no clear agreement on how to carry out Brexit. Now, the casualties have been mounting. The latest victim? U.K. Healthcare.

European Medicines Agency has decided to cut ties with Britain because of the long lead-time involved in assessing medicines. It could no longer award the lead contracts to British firms since there was no guarantee they would be part of the EU after Brexit in March 2019.

EMA opted to rescind new and existing contracts with the Medicines & Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) in Britain which has been conducting 20-30% of assessments of all medicines sold in Europe.

A spokeswoman stated, “We couldn’t even allocate the work now for new drugs because the expert has to be available throughout the evaluation period and sometimes that can take a year”

This is a devastating blow to the British pharmaceutical industry which hasn’t recovered yet from the loss of 900 jobs last year when EMA relocated their Headquarters from London to Amsterdam.

Mike Thompson, the chief executive of the Association of British Pharmaceutical Industry, said “Clearly we’ve all been incredibly proud of the MHRA’s role over the last few years. They’d established themselves as one of the most respected regulators across all of Europe and industry. It’s been a British success story.”

Martin McKee, the professor of European health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine said, “The MHRA has benefited enormously from its close links with the EMA. The fracturing of those links will impact severely on its budget, much now from the EMA, and its ability to attract and retain skilled staff.”

The MHRA said that it will try to negotiate with EMA so ties will not be severed.

An MHRA statement said: “We want to retain a close working partnership with the EU to ensure patients continue to have timely access to safe medicines and medical devices. This involves us making sure our regulators continue to work together, as they do with regulators internationally, and we would like to explore with the EU the terms on which the UK could continue to participate in the EMA.”