Drug giants have warned of 'significant disruption to the supply chain for medicines' NHS Photo Library
Looming disruption to the flow of medicines after Brexit means Britain must seek to stay under EU regulation, senior Government figures have conceded. Ministers are already pushing for the chemicals and aviation industries to remain under Brussels supervision – despite it clashing with Theresa May’s pledge to end oversight by the European Court of Justice (ECJ).
Now three leading Government figures have told the Financial Times that Britain will also need to stick with the EU’s rules on standards and safety for medicines. The move follows a stark warning by the drug giants of “significant disruption to the supply chain for medicines” and that customs delays would damage “time and temperature sensitive” materials.
Meanwhile, Britain's biggest drugmaker said it would have to divert up to £70m from developing new cancer drugs in order to prepare for the impact of Brexit. Glaxo-SmithKline (GSK) estimated that 1,700 of its products would be directly affected by the need for new regulation processes and approval systems – leaving less money for clinical trials.
Staying under EU regulation would be welcomed by the industry, but would be a headache for Mrs May if it crosses her “red line” that the ECJ must play no role in settling disputes. Furthermore, Britain will lose 900 skilled jobs when the body regulating the sale of drugs, the European Medicines Agency, is required to move from London to Amsterdam – because of Brexit.
One Government official told the Financial Times that the ECJ red line had been blurred and was “not quite so rigid now”.