UK Cancer Patients Could Face Two-Year Wait After Brexit, Experts Warned
Ministers warned that United Kingdom patients could face up two years delay of acquiring important new drugs as a result of the Brexit. Former chairman of UK's medical regulator Sir Alasdair Breckenridge said that new cancer drugs could be among those affected.
According to Breckenridge, if the European Medicines Agency (EMA) would decide to leave the U.K. after Brexit, then innovation of new drugs could be compromised. EMA regulates drugs across the European Union (EU) and is currently based in the U.K., but even Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt admitted that he is not expecting the EMA to remain within the country.
Likewise, Eisai vice president David Jeffreys warned that British patients could face delays up to two years, Mirror reported. Since UK patients will be put in the second or probably the third wave due to the Brexit, British patients then have to wait for up to 12 to 24 months to get medicines.
"The UK market, compared to the European market, of course, is small and they (EMA) may decide not to come to the United Kingdom. So, therefore, there will be a delay in getting new drugs - important new drugs, anti-cancer drugs, anti-infective drugs - for patients in the UK," BBC quoted Breckenridge as saying. The current medical regulator Professor Michael Rawlins echoed similar concerns about the aftermath of the Brexit, saying that the U.K. could lag behind Japan, the U.S. and the rest of Europe when drugs are introduced.
In other words, if the EMA being an EU body cut ties with London after the Brexit, the U.K. patients could end up at the back of the queue in medicine supplies. Although the EU and the U.K. could reach an agreement for drug regulation, Kent Woods said that the debate about trade terms could drown the current issue.
The Department of Health, however, assured that ensuring a timely access to safe and effective medicines for UK citizens remain to be a priority of the government. The government body said that it is currently taking actions to secure access to the latest medical innovations for British patients despite the Brexit.