Published: 29 January 2018

Patients could find that supplies of their medicines will be disrupted when the UK leaves the EU, according to the Brexit Health Alliance in a briefing paper published today, which is calling on both sides to put patients first.

The Alliance brings together the NHS, medical research, industry, patients and public health organisations to safeguard the interests of patients and the healthcare and research they rely on.

Titled “Brexit and the impact on patient access to medicines and medical technologies”, it warns that unless a deal is reached, medicines and medical technologies could be delayed or even become unavailable to patients.

In an example, the Brexit Health Alliance is warning that up to 120,000 prostate cancer patients throughout Europe could be affected if Brexit negotiations fail to find a solution for future cooperation between the UK and the EU on regulation and trade of medicines and medical devices.

A prostate cancer medicine, made in a highly sophisticated process in the UK and used in 80 countries including all of Europe, is one of many medicines that risks supply disruption from a “no deal” scenario. 

The future of research into new medicines and medical technologies could also be affected. Around 750 UK-led clinical trials including multiple EU member states could be at risk if there is no plan on how to approve and manage these multi-national trials with European partners after March 2019.

The aim of the Brexit Health Alliance is to secure a cooperation agreement between the UK and the EU on regulation of medicines and medical devices.

Niall Dickson, co-chair of the Brexit Health Alliance, said:

"It is critical that UK and EU patients do not lose out on the best treatments and medical devices as the UK leaves the EU. We want to make sure that patients continue to benefit from early access to new health technologies and cutting-edge medicines, and that includes being able to take part in international clinical trials. This can be achieved if will is there – what patients need is maximum co-operation and alignment between the EU and the UK on the regulation of medicines and medical devices and we very much welcome the UK Government’s commitment to close collaboration with our European partners. Let’s put patients first - both the UK Government and European Commission must make this cooperation a priority in the interests of UK and EU patients.”  

Aisling Burnand, Chief Executive of the Association of Medical Research Charities, said: 

"It is vital that the health of patients is prioritised in the second phase of negotiations. If not, patients in the UK and the EU could face delays in accessing potentially life-saving treatments. Officials on both sides of the negotiating table must have patients’ best interests at heart and ensure safety considerations are paramount."

For information on members of the Brexit Health Alliance, and its work, please see here: