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Brexit could leave patients unable to access drugs

NHS patients could face extensive delays in getting new drugs or be deprived of them altogether as a result of Brexit, a group of NHS bosses, pharmaceutical firms and doctors have warned.

The NHS could find themselves unable to access new medications for up to a year, in comparison to the the 27 other European Union nations once Britain leaves in March next year, they said on Monday.

This ultimately means patients could lose out, unless the government chooses to continue UK-EU agreement on the drug supply, as a priority at the second part of the Brexit discussions and avoids a “no-deal” exit, according to a report from the Brexit Health Alliance.

The Brexit Health Alliance represents 250,000 UK doctors, health charities, the NHS confederation and NHS Providers.

Both act on behalf of the NHS hospital trust and the association of the British Pharmaceutical industry, which is the body for the UK’s developer and manufacturer of the countries drugs.

The report warns that “The UK’s plans to leave the European Union and the EU’s single market could have serious implications for patients’ access to medicines and medical technologies.”

Both patients in the UK and the 27 other members of European Union could be impacted by “the disruption in trade that could result from the UK’s exit from the EU, as well as in the event of lack of cooperation in the regulation of medicines and devices between the EU and the UK post-Brexit”.

The report summaries the problems that could affect the UK’s access to drugs, as an outcome of their loss of membership to the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

The EMA is an agency of the European Union that is responsible for “the scientific evaluation, supervision and safety monitoring of medicines in the EU.”

The EMA protects the public and animal health of the European member states.

The disruption to the supply of the drugs that are held by EU countries could mean the UK having to plan a new scheme for the approval of the 978 drugs that have already been authorised by the EMA since 1996, the alliance believes.

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