Coalition of UK’s Health Sector Request Protection for Public Health Post-Brexit

November 20, 2018

A coalition group from the UK's health sector has called on both the UK and EU to ensure the protection of patients and public health when considering the future relationship of the regions post-Brexit.

A coalition group that includes the National Health Service (NHS), the pharma, and biotech industries has asked that both the United Kingdom and the European Union (EU) make sure that patients and public health are protected in the future relationship of the regions post-Brexit, it has been announced in a Nov. 19, 2018 press statement.

Currently, despite references to a cooperative approach to ‘health security’, there is no specific guarantee in the draft political declaration of how patients will be protected in terms of medicines safety, public health disasters, and infectious disease control, once the UK leaves the EU. As a result, the UK’s health sector coalition has stated that the current systems in place, which align the patient safety for those in UK and EU, are in jeopardy.

To ensure that patients can continue to benefit from the cooperation that the UK and EU have at the moment, the coalition has requested that the final political declaration on the future relationship between the UK and the EU contains the following: specific reference to the importance of cooperating on the regulation of medicines; clear indication that there will be cooperation on protecting citizens from infectious disease and counterfeit medicines; and clear indication that there will be closer collaboration on science and innovation.

“Brexit negotiators have an opportunity to take decisions today which will protect patients in the future,” said chief executive of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), Mike Thompson, in the release. “While there are positives in the political declaration, the detail is missing. We are asking government to give explicit commitments on issues of public health and medicines safety which we think is the minimum that patients across Europe should expect.”

“The draft political declaration has missed an opportunity to prioritize patients across Europe and the UK,” added Steve Bates, CEO of the UK BioIndustry Association (BIA). “It is vital that patients are included in the next political declaration and are a priority for discussions to ensure public health and patient safety are not negatively affected by Brexit-both day one post-Brexit and in the future.”

“We understand that there is still much detail to be worked out on the future relationship between the UK and the EU, and we are pleased that the withdrawal agreement preserves key safeguards for patients during the implementation period,” commented Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, which represents organizations across the healthcare sector. “But we need assurances from the UK and the EU authorities that they will put patients first as they negotiate details of the long-term relationship.

“That means putting some specific but non-controversial commitments in the political declaration, which make clear that surveillance systems which protect patients will be retained, that we will continue to collaborate on public health to control epidemics and manage infectious diseases, and that we align the regulation of medicines and medical devices.

“These ambitions were reflected in the UK government’s white paper on the UK-EU future relationship and are consistent with the commitment made in the draft political declaration to maintain co-operation on health security, but they need to be spelt out.”

Source: ABPI