Pharma concerned as UK votes for “Brexit”

The UK has voted to leave the European Union in a “Brexit” move that will have wide political and economic consequences – including for the pharma and life sciences industry.

Prime minister David Cameron has already announced that he is to step down and that a new prime minister will be in place by October, but there are many unanswered questions.

The news that Britain had voted to leave sent shares and the value of the pound plunging amid the uncertainty.

The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) trade body had championed remaining in the EU from the outset.

As the nation went to the polls on Thursday, the ABPI joined 1,280 businesses in signing a letter to remain.

But following a vote that swung in favour of leaving the EU, ABPI CEO Mike Thompson said in a statement: “The voice of the British people has been heard. This creates immediate challenges for future investment, research and jobs in our industry in the UK. With that being the case, we are committed to working closely with the government to agree what steps need to be taken to send a strong signal that the UK is open for business.”

Britain has particularly strong links with Europe in medicines regulation – the European Medicines Agency is based in London and the Brexit decision almost certainly means the regulator will move in the longer term.

In a statement, an EMA spokesperson said it was business as usual and that the regulator will continue with its mission to protect human and animal health.

A spokesperson said: “The people in the UK have taken their vote and it is now up to the UK government to decide how to act upon the outcome of the referendum.

“No country has ever decided to leave the EU, so there is no precedent for this situation. It is too early to foresee the implications of this decision and at this stage we are waiting for further guidance from the European Commission. Whenever we have concrete information we will share it.”

In a statement, the Ethical Medicines Industry Group (EMIG), representing small and medium sized pharma in the UK, said: “EMIG is concerned with the UK electorate’s decision to leave the EU.

“This decision will undermine the position of the UK in its critical role as the regulatory gateway for US and other biotech companies to the entire EU market.

“It will downgrade the value of the UK as a world-class scientific research centre and therefore make it less attractive as for investment and the best global research minds.

“Ultimately, this is an unfortunate decision for patients and the opportunity for access to the most up to date innovative medicines.”

The European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA), representing European pharma, said: “EFPIA shares the common goal of ensuring rapid access to innovative medicines for patients across Europe, as well as developing a regulatory and policy environment that fosters innovation and supports the research and development of new medicines to meet the needs of patients, healthcare systems and society.

“As an industry, over the coming months, we are committed to engaging with stakeholders both in Europe and in the UK to support these objectives.”

Don't miss your daily pharmaphorum news.
SUBSCRIBE free here.