Published: 6 September 2017

Commenting on the publication of the Government position paper on the UK’s future relationship with the EU regarding science and research, Aisling Burnand MBE, chief executive of the Association of Medical Research Charities said:

“This is a welcome signal from Government that the sector’s voice has been heard and understood. International collaboration through EU funding programmes and schemes has been, and remains, vital for medical research. And ultimately for patients -particularly those with a rare disease. 

 “Now we need clear detail on our future relationship with Horizon 2020, including the Innovative Medicines Initiative, and successor programmes. As well as continued involvement the UK must continue to be a voice round the table to shape the direction and priorities of these schemes. Government must deliver on this, and fast.

“As negotiations continue to determine the UK’s future relationship with the EU, the deal reached must not negatively impact patients - in the UK and across the EU. This means patients must be able to continue to participate in vital pan-EU clinical trials; have speedy access to new medical innovations; and crucially, experience no disruption in the supply of medicines and treatments. Patient safety must not be compromised. Today’s announcement of the Government position, including the aim for future collaboration with the European Medicines Agency,  is an important step towards ensuring that this is achieved.

“But we cannot become complacent. The science community urgently requires clarification on the status of EU nationals in the UK. Uncertainty about the status of research and healthcare professionals in the UK is damaging the UK’s reputation and attractiveness as a place to do research. We look forward to hearing that the Government has addressed this issue”

1. The EU is a key funder of medical research in the UK. Their current programme for science and research, Horizon 2020, has afforded the UK approximately €240 million from health-related projects so far and between 2012-20 almost a third of follow-on funding has been leveraged from EU sources.

2. Collaboration with the EU is vital for rare disease research as the much larger pan-EU population allows a sufficient cohort of both researchers with appropriate expertise, and patients able to participate in research.

3. The Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC) has been the national membership organisation for the health and medical research charity world for the last 30 years.