Coughs cost the UK economy nearly £1bn a year in lost productivity and sick days, with a further £100m bill for the NHS in seeing patients who will get better on their own.
Britain’s leading role in evaluating new medicines for sale to patients across the EU has collapsed with no more work coming from Europe because of Brexit, it has emerged.
The decision by the European Medicines Agency to cut Britain out of its contracts seven months ahead of Brexit is a devastating blow to British pharmaceutical companies already reeling from the loss of the EMA’s HQ in London and with it 900 jobs.
All drugs sold in Europe have to go through a lengthy EMA authorisation process before use by health services, and the Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) in Britain has built up a leading role in this work, with 20-30% of all assessments in the EU.
The MHRA won just two contracts this year and the EMA said that that work was now off limits. “We couldn’t even allocate the work now for new drugs because the expert has to be available throughout the evaluation period and sometimes that can take a year,” said a spokeswoman.
In a devastating second blow, existing contracts with the MHRA are also being reallocated to bloc members.
Martin McKee, the professor of European health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, who has given evidence to select committees about Brexit, said it was a disaster for the MHRA, which had about £14m a year from the EMA.
The head of the Association of British Pharmaceutical Industry said it was akin to watching a “British success story” being broken up.
Mike Thompson, the chief executive of the association, said: “Clearly we’ve all been incredibly proud of the MHRA’s role over the last few years. They’d established themselves as one of the most respected regulators across all of Europe and industry. It’s been a British success story.”
The EMA said that because of the long lead-time involved in assessing medicines it could no longer award the lead contracts to British people since there was no guarantee they would be part of the EU after March 2019.
It is understood the MHRA bid for 36 EMA contracts this year but were only awarded two, and these were for drugs for which evaluation had already begun.
The situation is a stark contrast to 2016 when the UK was the lead assessor, known as the rapporteur, on 22 applications, and was joint lead or co-rapporteur on 19 multinational applications.
This made it the number one in Europe, with Germany’s regulator behind with 22 lead contracts but only 12 co-contracts.
An MHRA statement said:
“We want to retain a close working partnership with the EU to ensure patients continue to have timely access to safe medicines and medical devices. This involves us making sure our regulators continue to work together, as they do with regulators internationally, and we would like to explore with the EU the terms on which the UK could continue to participate in the EMA.”
This five minutes could be the most important for your health & honest statement spoken about the medical “industry”.
The full two hours debate here
Super session in the 2-hour European Parliament meeting on Thursday – so many issues raised by Dr. Aseem Malhotra, MEP Nathan Gill, Sir Richard Thomson, Professor Hanno Pijl and Sarah Macklin. Now edited with HD footage and clear sound. Let’s get the message out – MEP Nathan Gill and Aseem reckon a million views would be a great goal – only if it gets shared like hell !
To allow doctors to be honest and give best advice for our health, the medical and pharmaceutical industry needs transparency and movement away from profit orientated business and poor medicine.