Brexit: UK patients could miss out on latest medical innovations

Patient in the UK could miss out on the latest medical innovations if Britain votes to leave the EU

Patients in the UK would miss out on groundbreaking clinical trials by voting to leave the EU, Britain's pharmaceuticals trade body has warned.

The European Union Clinical Trials Regulation, due to come into effect at the end of 2018, is set to harmonise procedures for the assessment of applications for clinical trials. The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) said Brexit would see patients in the UK fall out of this new system, leaving EU patients ahead in accessing the latest innovative clinical research.

Research published by the ABPI and Thomson Reuters in 2015 suggests the UK is the top country in Europe for phase one clinical trials, second behind Germany for phase two clinical trials and third behind Germany and Spain for phase three clinical trials.

Mike Thompson, ABPI chief executive said: “A cornerstone of maintaining the UK’s status as a premier global destination for life sciences, clinical trials are vital to the process of drug discovery and innovation, delivering UK patients the opportunity to access medical innovation to fight cancer and HIV/AIDS, as well as the rarest forms of genetic diseases.

“While the decision in this referendum is for the people of the UK and the industry is committed to investing in research and delivering new medicines for patients regardless of the outcome of the vote, the UK’s continued membership of the EU is vital in maintaining UK patient access to clinical trials to continue to deliver positive patient outcomes.

“By voting to leave, UK trials could face delay, as companies would deprioritise Britain for a more collaborative and harmonised approach available inside the EU. This would be a backwards step for patients and for the NHS.”

He added: “EU reform on clinical trials also provides a framework for collaboration across Europe and is just one real-world example of how Brussels is willing to listen to UK industry, to UK government and to the UK public to fix complex problems and cut red tape.”