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Public health

Brexit could have 'moderately positive impact' on medicine manufacturing in the UK, says Welsh report

A report from Public Health Wales has suggested that Brexit may have a positive impact on the UK pharmaceutical sector in the long term.

Welsh and EU flags flying

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The Health Impact Assessment report notes that it “is not an analysis of the type of Brexit position the UK should adopt”, but instead is about informing decisions

Brexit could have a “moderately positive impact” on the development of the UK pharmaceutical sector in the long term, according to a Health Impact Assessment report published by Public Health Wales (PHW).

However, there is a risk of medicines supply disruptions and opportunities for research and development could diminish owing to a loss of future EU funding, the paper warns.

The report examined the possible harms and benefits of Brexit on the short-, medium- and long-term health of people living in Wales.

It highlighted access to health and social care as an area where “action is needed”, owing to of the potential impact of Brexit the population, particularly on vulnerable groups.

The report identified staffing as a confirmed negative impact of Brexit in Wales. It also set out five probable negative impacts on access to health and social care, including access to medicines, medical devices and clinical trials, health protection, treatment for rare diseases and cross-border health and social care.

“Predicting health outcomes is complex and difficult, even more so in the context of the shifting sands of the Brexit process,” said Liz Green, principal Health Impact Assessment development officer at PHW.

“The Health Impact Assessment is not an analysis of the type of Brexit position the UK should adopt — it is about informing decisions so that once a destination has been chosen, it can be reached with the least harm and most benefit to health.

“It highlights the need for action to maximise any potential opportunities for improving health and well-being in Wales following Brexit, as well as mitigating or preventing any possible negative impacts or unintended consequences.”

The assessment named reduced access to coordinating public health systems, such as the European Medicines Agency; changing regulatory standards and legal frameworks; and leaving the single market and/or customs union as three of the direct impacts of Brexit on access to medicines, medical devices and clinical trials in Wales. It also suggested that these changes could also bring about a “moderate possible positive impact in the long term for development in the UK pharmaceutical sector and increasing UK-based manufacturing”. 

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2019.20206036

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