Pharma leaders debate the impact of Brexit

peopel at a meeting to show NICE recommending an innovative skin cancer drug

Over 170 people from across the pharmaceutical sector supply chain gathered for the 2018 Pharmaceutical Industry Network Group (PING) seminar, held in conjunction with Ethical Medicines Industry Group (EMIG).

Regulatory Plan and Changes

Dr Peter Gough, Executive Director at NSF Pharma Biotech, provided a practical overview of the regulatory implications for Brexit, stating that shortages could arise if extra admin or customs procedures are introduced. Peter also emphasised the importance of other factors, such as the EMA’s relocation to Amsterdam, the role of the MHRA, centralised marketing authorisations and safety features around data.

Trading Between UK and the EEA

It is important to understand what Brexit means for trade between the UK and the rest of the EEA. The British Association of European Pharmaceutical Distributors (BAEPD)’s Legal Adviser, Julian Maitland-Walker, discussed the EU membership and the impact of Brexit on intellectual property rights in the pharmaceutical sector.

Julian explained that Brexit’s impact on parallel distribution could result in the loss of 3,000 UK jobs, elimination of NHS clawback savings, loss of access to certain specialist drugs and an increased risk of supply chain shortages.

Access to Talent – Immigration and Free Movement of People

Recent reports have confirmed that Pharmaceuticals and Life Sciences businesses are struggling to attract and retain key talent from overseas as a result of uncertainty over Brexit. VWV’s specialist Immigration Senior Associate, Tom Brett-Young stated, “Nearly two years after the vote to leave the EU, there continues to be lots of uncertainty amongst employers in all sectors as well as EEA nationals in the UK.”

Access to People and Funding Issues Post-Brexit

Professor Darragh Murnane, Professor of Pharmaceutics at the University of Hertfordshire’s Centre for Research in Topical Drug Delivery and Toxicology, addressed the freedom of movement, student migration and mobility implications to affect UK students in higher education post-Brexit Britain. Darragh set out a number of initiatives designed to work with business in light of Brexit, including apprenticeships, student placements and the £6m Hertfordshire Science Partnership.


Paul Gershlick, Chair of PING and Head of Pharmaceuticals and Life Sciences at VWV commented, “The event focused on the key areas of uncertainty surrounding Brexit’s future impact on the UK pharma sector and economy. It was clear to all that much will still depend on the outcome of the Brexit negotiations between the UK and EU. However, the speakers showed delegates that there are practical steps that should be done now to prepare in light of the regulatory changes.”