Pharma Wary of Brexit

June 1, 2016
Adeline Siew, PhD

Adeline Siew is editor for Pharmaceutical Technology Europe. She is also science editor for Pharmaceutical Technology.

Pharma has voiced strong opposition against Britain’s departure from the EU.

On 23 June 2016, the United Kingdom will hold a referendum to decide if it wants to remain as part of the European Union. The debate has caused quite a stir because the so-called Brexit, if it does happen, would have serious implications across the country and continent. 
As one of the industries facing major repercussions, pharma has voiced strong opposition against Britain’s departure from the EU. A vote to leave would inevitably affect drug regulations and market access, and global pharma leaders have warned of the significant regulatory burdens and business upheaval that could follow. 
The European Medicines Agency (EMA), for example, which is currently based in London, would have to relocate its headquarters to another city within the EU. R&D could be threatened, especially if the loss of funding dampens investment in the country. More importantly, patient access to innovative medicines could be jeopardized if launching new drugs in the UK no longer guarantees entrance to the larger European market. 
A letter to the Observer, signed by Sir Andrew Witty, CEO of GlaxoSmithKline, and 92 other leading life-sciences figures pointed out that leaving the EU would bring added complexity and uncertainty whereas the UK’s continued membership offers stability and predictability. 
Although polls, at the time of writing, indicate a narrow lead for the “Remain” campaign, there is still the possibility of a Brexit. And if that bridge must be crossed, it’s not the end of the world for pharma. After all, Switzerland is proof that the pharmaceutical industry can still thrive in a country that is not a member of the EU, but it all boils down to the negotiations between the UK and the EU regarding future relationships, and it is this unknown that pharma is wary of. 

Article DetailsPharmaceutical Technology Europe
Vol. 28, No. 6
Page: 6

Citation
When referring to this article, please cite it as A. Siew, "Pharma Wary of Brexit," Pharmaceutical Technology Europe 28 (6) 2016.