British pharmaceutical firms have been advised by the European Medicines Agency (EMA) to prepare for a Brexit “crisis” that includes hundreds of millions of pounds of restructuring costs and significantly reduced access to the single market.
The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) said new EMA regulatory guidance for Brexit published this week was a risk to UK pharma jobs and public health.
The EMA, which is currently based in London but will soon move to one of the remaining 27 EU member states, advised UK pharma firms to move parts of their operations and hundreds of staff to the EU before Brexit so that they can keep selling pharmaceuticals in the single market.
The EMA also warned of increased regulation and rigorous checks on exported medicines from March 30, 2019.
ABPI executive director of research, medical and innovation, Dr Virginia Acha, described the guidance as the “opening chapter in this crisis”, saying the proposed restructuring costs alone would cost “hundreds of millions of pounds”.
She criticised the EMA’s paper for only envisioning “the hardest of hard Brexits” and called on politicians, industry and regulators to come together to work out a better deal.
Acha told The Telegraph: “Rather than a fast decision, let’s get the right decision… The proposals represent a very significant change and preclude the possibility of a better decision.”
Acha said medicines were a “public need issue” that should be treated “like policing or welfare in the Brexit negotiations.”
Around 900 British-based jobs will be moved to the EU once the EMA leaves its headquarters in London’s Docklands. It’s departure has sparked fierce competition among EU states vying to become the EMA’s new home.
The EMA’s Brexit guidance came after the EU’s financial regulator, the European Securities and Markets Authority, set out strict parameters for British companies wanting to provide services to EU customers after Brexit.