Brexit Could ‘Delay Cure for Cancer’

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Wednesday May 25th, 2016

Regulators and scientists have said that leaving the EU could slow down access to new medicines and threaten the search for a cancer cure.

Giants in the pharmaceutical field have said a vote to leave would create uncertainty that could cause disruption to major advances in the pipeline for drug development.

Head of the UK medicines regulator, Sir Mike Rawlings, said he hopes and prays that Britain will stay in the EU.

The chairman of the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency) said Brexit would stop Britain from being able to access rapid alerts to warn of dangers in healthcare devices and drugs.

President of Pharmaceutical Research and Development for GlaxoSmithKline, Professor Patrick Vallance, said the lack of shared systems would also cause UK patients to face longer waits for drugs. He said cures are coming along at the moment and regulatory uncertainty is the last thing anybody needs.

He went on to highlight recent immunotherapy advances and developments in genetics mapping. These areas suggest that medicine is on the cusp of substantial breakthroughs in finding a cancer cure. Professor Vallance said that looking at countries that aren’t in the EU, it seems to take longer on average to get approval for new drugs.

The scientists believe there is a risk that Britain would need to re-register 130 products if it left the EU.

According to Sir Mike, the MHRA would lose a significant portion of its income if it could only authorise products for a UK market rather than gaining approval across Europe.

Non-executive director at the body, Professor Bruce Campbell, said that Brexit could make it more difficult to notice when things go wrong with a medical device. He said that all medical devices need some form of regulation and there are about half a million of them out there. He said some of them require complex regulation and licensing and this is currently done through a collaborative, carefully constructed European system.

Professor Campbell added that it would be very difficult to set up a UK system, especially since Europe is only just approaching success after struggling to do it for years.

He said that if things went well, Britain could continue to work with other agencies, but he feels that doing everything regarding medical devices alone would be hard.

When discussing the occurrence of problems with products, he said they key to spotting such issues is by receiving information and signals from numerous places and the bigger the area the safety signals are coming from, the better.

In addition to this, he said that it could also lead to delays for patients getting access to the latest medical devices because they can currently be approved in just one EU country before being used everywhere else.

Chief executive of NHS England, Simon Stevens, said he’s taking warnings of a possible recession caused by Brexit very seriously and added that it would be dangerous for the NHS.