The Impact of Brexit On the Life Sciences Industry

Health Policies For The Life Sciences Industry

The historic UK referendum on the nation’s relationship with the EU led to a surprising result. The majority of the people wanted to leave.

This severing of ties – now more commonly referred to as Brexit – has cast doubts over the ongoing UK/EU relationship concerning healthcare and the life sciences industry.  There is plenty of debate over the way in which Brexit will have an impact on this industry.

There was no clear answer at the time as so many variables, and factors were to consider.  We don’t yet know who will be affected and to what extent.

To Gain Insight Into The Possible Outcomes, We Need To Look At Brexit Through A Series Of Scenarios.

 Health Care Policies

Right now, negotiations for the future relationship with the EU are ongoing. Any official terms are yet to be brought forward by PM Theresa May. There are currently four ways that this could go. First, there is the Full Break mode with free trade rules that are governed by the WTO. This is the concern for many “reminders” that are affected by current relationship strains. There is also the Comprehensive free trade agreement – a term that is being used a lot in the UK. Finally, there is the choice of the European Economic Area membership or Multiple Sectoral Bilateral Agreement. There are lots of different directions that the UK could take, which would result in different levels of access and participation.

Norway is an excellent example of a nation that broke away and is now dealing with the EU in various ways on these health care and life sciences matters. Norway has a European Economic Area membership. This has allowed for full participation in EU science programs in exchange for a lot of funding. They are also bound by most of the same EU regulations. Norway does get to sign its trade deals, but this has had minimal impact on the life sciences industry so far.

The Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement, on the other hand, could result in a similar relationship as that of the EU and Canada. Canada has minimal access to EU science programs, and it is unclear how much access the UK would get under this approach. More responsibility for drug regulations and product marketing licenses would also fall into British hands in this scenario. In contrast to Norway’s EEA, trade deals here would be difficult and time-consuming. This is certainly the experience of Canada.

There Are Concerns From UK Health Care Leaders About The Reputation Of The Life Sciences Industry Once The UK Breaks Away.

A lack of conversation, trade, and funding between the nations will put these UK researchers on the back foot. This knock could be worsened if the UK government can’t match EU funding. This dent in the industry could mean that other nation leapfrogs the UK regarding respect and deals. However, it is believed that the UK links with the European Medicines Agency will continue as before.

It would be a much quicker move than attempting to start their marketing organization. In addition to this, it is also judged that the UK will not suffer when it comes to pricing and market access. The EU transparency directive would no longer apply, but there would be minimal impact. The only potential problem here is an increase in waiting times.

The biggest concern for many in the industry is the location of the EMA. This sensible move to a site within the EU could have a significant impact on the staff employed. As a result, it could direct to some temporary instability. The EMA will be rebuilt and stay active, but the loss could hit the UK.

How Much Would Change In The Health Care Industry With Brexit?

Health Care Policies

First and foremost, we must remember that the life sciences industry is global. This means that this European shift won’t dictate changes across the board. Finished products are unlikely to see tariffs against them, and the UK is unlikely to move away from international agreements. The example seen in the Norwegian and Canadian models shows that there are very different potential outcomes.

If the UK took the European Economic Area membership, then it appears as though Brexit would not have a massive impact on EU relations in this field. A Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement would allow for conversation and some access to deals, but much more power and responsibility would fall to the UK. This is both a pro and con, depending on your views.

The problem is that the more questions that we ask, the more we consider. Another important issue regarding continued stability in life sciences in the UK regards investment. Are companies still going to be willing to invest in health care research within the UK following Brexit? Life Sciences researchers may continue to see the benefit of staying in the UK, but then there is the issue of the liberty of movement. IF EU staff cannot come to the UK to train or work, a life sciences research center may not be so viable.

Right Now, Brexit Is Still A Promise Yet To Turn Into Agreements Or Action.

There is still a long way to go with Brexit. The UK voted to leave in June 2016. So far, little has changed in the political landscape, and the nation is still set within the EU. It is believed that this sense of uncertainty over relationships, participation, and trade agreements is set to continue for many years to come. Some say that it could perhaps even be as much as a decade.

There is still far too much to negotiate, too many variables, and too much uncertainty about the UK’s direction. Even then, once the last relationship is settled and Brexit is formally completed, it can take years for agreements to be realized. Britain has been warned by some world leaders to join the back of the queue. It is not unreasonable that they expect a difficult journey in the years ahead.


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