Two senior government ministers have suggested that the United Kingdom will continue to cooperate with the European Union about the recent Brexit decision.
Business Secretary Greg Clark and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt indicated their belief that this deal would be “in the interests of public health and safety”.
Writing to the Financial Times, the duo indicated that “the UK would like to find a way to continue to collaborate with the EU”.
Among the concerns following the recent Brexit vote is that British patients may be denied drugs, or at best that there may be severe delays in delivering them.
Currently, the London-based European Medicines Agency (EMA) is responsible for authorising drug usage across Europe, including the UK.
However, this body will probably leave the British Isles after Brexit has taken place.
This has raised question marks over whether Britain will need to develop its own separate drug approval system.
Industry experts suggest that pharmaceutical companies will be slower to seek permission for drugs to be utilised in one singular territory, instead focusing on the larger and more lucrative European market.
However, it should be said in mitigation that Britain is a very significant economy, and still represents a lucrative market for drug manufacturers.
Nonetheless, the UK pharmaceuticals trade association has also warned that Brexit could undermine future investment, research and jobs in the country, as the potential consequences of this historic vote remain unclear.
The ministers wrote that the UK “will look to continue to work closely with the European Medicines Agency (EMA). Our overall aim is to ensure that patients in the UK and across the EU continue to be able to access the best and most innovative medicines”.
And the letter also cited a number of examples of the partnership between Britain and the European Union assisting patients, which included the licensing of 130 products that treat rare diseases.
However, ministers are also confident that a suitable deal can be arranged to satisfy drug producers.
And if it is not possible to arrange “our desired relationship with the EU”, then Britain would “set up a regulatory system” to process drugs licenses “as quickly as possible.”
In what can be considered an unclear climate, pharmaceutical firms have been pressurising the government to explain how things will operate in a post-Brexit society.
With this in mind, Mike Thompson, CEO of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, said the ministers’ letter was “a welcome recognition that the future of medicines regulation is a key priority for the government”.