Health coalition calls for patient protection post-Brexit

A coalition of UK health experts is calling on the Government to protect patients in future UK-EU relationship.
A coalition of UK health experts is calling on the Government to protect patients in future UK-EU relationship.

A UK coalition of pharma, NHS and biotech bodies says that Brexit negotiators have a responsibility to make patient safety and public health central to the Political Declaration for the future relationship between the UK and the EU.

The group is calling on both sides to protect 500 million patients on both sides of the Channel.

The current draft Political Declaration includes references to ‘cooperation on matters of health security’. However, health experts say that it is not clear from the document how it will guarantee that patients are protected as they are currently on issues such as medicines safety, public health disasters and infectious disease control.

The coalition says that current systems which align the UK and the EU in the interest of patient safety are at risk, including:

  • Preventing fake or fraudulent medicines from entering the legal supply chain
  • Sharing data and ‘signals’ between EU countries that flag potential problems with medicines
  • Preventing and controlling infectious diseases across Europe, as billions of people travel between ports and airports
  • Ensuring the safety and supply of almost 1 billion packets of medicines between the UK and Europe every year.

The organisations are calling for the following to be included in the text of the final Political Declaration on the future UK-EU relationship, to ensure that patients continue to benefit from this cooperation:

  • To make specific reference to the importance of cooperating on the regulation of medicines
  • To make clear that the UK and EU will cooperate on protecting citizens from infectious disease and counterfeit medicines
  • To make clear that the UK and EU will agree closer collaboration on science and innovation.

ABPI Chief Executive Mike Thompson said: “Brexit negotiators have an opportunity to take decisions today which will protect patients in the future. 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.”

BIA CEO, Steve Bates, said: “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.”

Niall Dickson, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, which represents organisations across the healthcare sector, said: “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.”