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News & Views

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  • 20 May 2016
  • Gurjit Hothi

What Would UK Exit from the EU Mean for the Life Sciences Industry?

There has been a lot of debate recently about the impact on the UK’s life sciences industry should we leave the European Union. Nearly 100 business leaders and organisations, including the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), signed a letter to The Observer last week voicing concerns that an exit could create barriers to inward investment, attracting talent and access to medicines.The UK life sciences sector is worth £60 billion, making an important contribution to the UK economy. It supports over 220,000 jobs and last year life science exports to the EU were worth £11 billion.Some of the key topics of discussion include:

  • Regulatory processes – the European Medicines Agency is responsible for granting marketing authorisations for medicines in Europe. If the UK leaves the EU, companies may need to apply for separate market authorisations in both regions - which could delay access to the latest drugs and treatments.
  • Research and funding – the UK receives significant funding from the European Research Council which supports university research and this could be affected.
  • Access to medicines – the Brexit could jeopardise UK participation in pan-European projects intended to speed up patient access to innovation. It could also affect access to drugs in the UK as companies may decide to delay UK launch if there are separate approval processes.

Although the news is focusing on the uncertainty surrounding the Brexit, it has highlighted how much the UK life sciences sector contributes to the health and wealth of the nation. And raising awareness of all the exciting developments being made in this area can help attract more investment. It’s also showed that innovation and access to medicines is key and being part of a well-established umbrella system that can accelerate this process will help to ultimately improve patient lives.