Britain is pushing to remain subject to EU regulation for medicines after Brexit as not participating would create “serious competitive disadvantage”, says CBI
The UK could still be under the bloc’s rules regarding medicine post-Brexit. The Confederation of British Industry, an organisation representing 190,000 UK businesses, recommended in a December report,The room where it happens, that the UK remain “within ECHA and its associated regulatory frameworks.”
Their major concern regards distribution: Pharma industry leaders have warned of the consequences if some form of regulatory harmonisation cannot be achieved. National businesses would face “a serious competitive disadvantage” from having to comply with both a UK version of REACH and the European version in order to import and export.
But the main losers would be patients. For one, British patients would have delayed access to new drugs. In addition, ill people both inside and outside the EU would be faced with supply disruption: about 45 million packs of medicines are supplied from the UK to other European countries each month, while more than 37 million packs come from Europe to the UK.
Senior Government figures have in turn pushed for vital sectors to stay under European jurisdiction, led by Business Secretary Greg Clark. David Prior, who was Life Sciences Minister until October, said it would be “fantastic” if the UK stayed in the European system and warned of a negative impact on inward investment if it did not.
Some have argued a part-in, part-out solution would breach “red lines” set out by Prime Minister Theresa May in her October 2016 Conservative party conference speech. But some government officials said the ECJ “red line” had been blurred since the departure in June of Nick Timothy, Mrs May’s pro-Brexit former co-chief of staff.
Nevertheless, the biggest obstacle to overcome is the bloc’s loss of patience. Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief Brexit negotiator, has warned Britain that it cannot “cherry pick” parts of the single market. The Government still has to decide which economic sectors to include in negotiations and if the (certainly high) price asked in return by Brussels is worth it.
This post is also available in: FR (FR)