COVID-19 should not distract UK Government from reaching Brexit agreement for sake of pharmaceutical industry, says GlobalData

As the world continues to brace for a COVID-19 triggered economic downturn and with the Brexit transition period extension deadline ending on 30 June;

Urte Jakimaviciute, Senior Director of Market Research at GlobalData, shares her views on how the UK’s departure from the EU may affect the UK’s pharmaceutical sector:

“The UK is now set to face two crises: a pandemic and the possibility of a no-deal Brexit. The plan to negotiate a new trade agreement with the EU in less than a year was already a huge challenge pre-COVID, and now if Brexit negotiations fail to produce a new trade agreement and a no trade deal Brexit becomes a default option at the end of 2020, there is likely to be major implications on the pharmaceutical industry.

“Securing a close alignment to the EU regulatory bodies, as well as maintaining strong trade and cooperation links after Brexit is a necessity to minimize Brexit’s impact on pharmaceutical sector. Currently the UK’s pharma sector is part of an integrated EU supply chain that ensures frictionless transfer of pharmaceutical ingredients and finished goods. A no deal may see the UK lose the benefits of fast-track drug authorization processes, solid IP protection systems, inclusion in multinational clinical trials and access to research programs such as Horizon2020. Even if a no deal scenario is avoided, the UK’s Government may not have sufficient time to achieve a comprehensive agreement as there are many areas – for example the historically dominant financial and business services – that the UK may want to prioritize instead.

“Another worrying danger is that the UK could be at risk of medicine shortages after Brexit. Medicines stockpiled in the event of a no deal Brexit may have helped the UK to tackle the COVID-19 outbreak, however with a no deal scenario being back on the table, the UK may not be able to restock before the UK’s departure day. Aside losing single market access, the supplies of medications may be impacted by COVID-19.

“Pharmaceutical supply chains have been already disrupted during the initial pandemic outbreak and with a second wave being a possibility the disruptions and parallel export bans may be put back in place.”

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