Ipsen warns over medicine supplies amid Brexit uncertainty

France’s Ipsen has become the latest pharma company to warn about the impact of Brexit on the pharma industry and patients’ access to medicines.

As Theresa May attempts to drum up support for her Brexit deal, the French pharma said it was taking steps to minimise disruption to supplies of its drugs.

But Harout Semerjian, Ipsen’s chief commercial officer, said the “uncertain” political climate caused by Brexit is a headwind affecting the European market, and beyond.

Companies such as AstraZeneca have this year been increasing stockpiles of drugs in case of disruption caused by a ‘no deal’ Brexit.

Ipsen said it is taking similar steps, as it begins launching its cancer drug Cabometyx (cabozantinib) in second line liver cancer across Europe after recent approval by the European Commission.

The company is also building Cabometyx’s presence as a treatment for kidney cancer, in certain untreated patients and as a second line therapy.

In an interview with pharmaphorum, Semerjian said: “The current European political climate is also quite uncertain, as we still do not know the exact terms on which the UK will leave the EU – and the terms of the future relationship with the EU.

“However, leaving the EU and the single market will potentially impact the entire pharmaceutical industry; and could, in the absence of preparation, have serious implications for patients’ access to medicines and medical technologies.

“For us, the most important thing is to do all we can to ensure there is no disruption to patient supply of our medicines and we are currently preparing accordingly.”

Pharma companies have urged UK politicians to accept the deal that May has struck with European negotiators.

There are concerns that stricter border checks could lead to delays getting medicines across the channel between the UK and Europe, as well as uncertainties about how the political changes will affect drug regulation.

Nathalie Moll, director general of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA), said in a blog last month that the deal on the table is “infinitely better” than the UK leaving without a deal.

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