The UK and European Union need to continue to work together closely to facilitate timely access to new medicines post-Brexit, according to industry bodies.
A joint letter has been sent to the British and EU Brexit negotiation teams by the leaders of eight UK and European pharmaceutical and life science industry bodies, underlining the importance of making sure that the UK's departure from the union does not make it any more difficult for patients to access lifesaving medicines.
In the document, the industry leaders said continued cooperation between the UK and EU on medicines remains the best way of ensuring that Brexit has no adverse impact on public health, as an unorderly withdrawal from Europe could have a number of damaging consequences.
For example, it could result in medicines due to be moved between the UK and EU being held at border checks or in warehouses, or becoming subject to extensive retesting requirements that would cause a severe disruption of company supply chains. This, in turn, would stop doctors and pharmacists from getting hold of the life-saving medicines they need to treat their patients.
The letter said: "An implementation period that adequately reflects the time needed by pharmaceutical and biotech companies to transition to a new framework should be agreed on by negotiators. This will allow companies time to make the necessary arrangements to avoid any unintended consequences on the availability of the medicines."
Signatories of the letter include the heads of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, the Association of the European Self-Medication Industry, the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations, EuropaBio, Medicines for Europe, the British Generic Manufacturers Association, the BioIndustry Association, and the Proprietary Association of Great Britain.