Prime Minister Theresa May in a speech this week provided a 12-point plan of broad objectives of the UK plans to exit the European Union (EU), which included a commitment to science and innovation, an issue that was well received by the UK’s pharmaceutical industry.
”A Global Britain must also be a country that looks to the future. That means being one of the best places in the world for science and innovation,” said May. “One of our great strengths as a nation is the breadth and depth of our academic and scientific communities, backed up by some of the world’s best universities. And we have a proud history of leading and supporting cutting-edge research and innovation. So we will also welcome agreement to continue to collaborate with our European partners on major science, research, and technology initiatives.”
The UK pharmaceutical industry trade body, the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) voiced its support of the UK Prime Minister in identifying science and innovation as a priority in an exit plan. “ABPI is pleased that the Prime Minister has identified Britain becoming the best place for science and innovation as one of her twelve negotiation priorities,” said Mike Thompson, ABPI chief executive. “The Prime Minister has also said today that the UK’s new relationship with the EU will be set out by the end of the two-year period following the triggering of Article 50. Throughout this period, we will seek to secure the UK’s continued cooperation and alignment with EU rules for the regulation of medicines. This will be the best possible outcome for UK patients.”
Steve Bates, chief executive officer of the UK BioIndustry Association, a trade association representing the biotechnology and bioscience sector in the UK also underscored the importance of identifying science innovation as one of the priorities in the Brexit plan. “I welcome the fact that delivering a leading role for science and innovation is one of the Prime Minister’s key guiding principles for the Brexit negotiation,” said Bates in a statement. “The increased certainty where possible from the speech is also useful for business planning. It’s good to see that the Prime Minister understands the need to ‘continue to collaborate with our European partners on major science, research and technology initiatives’ and includes our sector as one that will remain in the forefront of collective endeavors to make better the world in which we live.”
He also pointed to the work of the UK EU Life Science Steering Committee, which was formed by the UK government to establish consensus on the issues influencing the maintenance and growth of the life-science sector as the UK plans to exit the European Union. “Drugs are the part of NHS [National Health Service[ care most integrated with the European Union and therefore drug regulation will need the closest attention to avoid a disruptive cliff edge for patients in both the UK and EU,” said Bates. “Here I believe the process of, and industry expertise made available to, the UK government through the work of the UK EU Life Science Steering committee should be useful.
Among the priorities of the EU Life Science Steering Committee is to gain regulatory co-operation agreement between the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and the European Medicines Agency as a means to ensure effectiveness and safety and to reduce any potential disruption to UK medicines supply.