Hard Brexit could lead to NHS drug delays, says think tank

A hard Brexit strategy could mean patients might have to face lengthy delays for important drugs, according to a leading think tank.
The new report, from the Public Police Projects, says that taking a hardline strategy could result in the loss of scientific funding for the UK drug industry, in turn leading to longer waits for patients.
Authors point out that patients, taxpayers and pharmaceutical companies all currently benefit from shared clinical trials and drug approvals across the UK and EU.
They say this would be under threat as a result of a hardline exit from Europe, with the risk being that this led to delays in new drugs coming to market within the UK.
As well as the potential threat to patients, they say that the economic fallout for the UK life sciences industry would be lost sales to the tune of £144 billion.
Stephen Dorrell, a former Tory health secretary who heads up the think tank, said the government must think just as carefully about repercussions for the pharmaceutical and biotech sectors as it had about the banking and car industries.
Car manufacturer Nissan recently announced it would be making two new models at its Sunderland plant following support and assurances from the UK Government. This will safeguard 7,000 jobs.
Currently, life sciences are worth £60 billion every year to the UK economy and employ some 220,000 people.
Mr Dorrell said that former Prime Minister David Cameron had once described life sciences as a “jewel in the crown” for the UK, but that jewel was now at risk.
The report has been supported by QuintilesIMS, a healthcare consulting firm, which said that the single market was necessary for drug manufacturers to ensure that scientists were free to work where they needed to in order to get the best results.
New Prime Minister Theresa May has already made a pledge that it will ensure any shortfall in scientific funding caused by leaving the single market is made up.
But Mr Dorrell said it was not about the money alone, but about making sure scientists were able to work together in collaboration and that the UK remained firmly within the scientific community in Europe.
Already, some pharmaceutical firms have said they will relocate, but others, including GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca have announced they will be pushing ahead with plans to invest despite the Brexit vote.

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