In the uncertain times leading up to the UK’s departure from the EU, efforts are being made to ensure the stability of the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries.

The Brexit Health Alliance (BHA) has been formed to ensure healthcare, research, biotechnology and patient treatment are leading issues in the Brexit negotiations, which began on 19 June.

Brexit Health Alliance: key players

The BHA, co-chaired by Sir Hugh Taylor and Niall Dickson, is a conglomerate representing the NHS and medical research, industry, patient and public health organisations.

The BHA’s main aims include ensuring government commitment to medical research, and the appropriate sourcing of funding for the life sciences industry. The alliance has also established a commitment to preserving UK citizens’ rights to EU healthcare.

The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) is also part of the BHA, and aims to put pharmaceutical issues at the forefront of the Brexit negotiations. It has highlighted the importance of continued innovation and security within the NHS to support the growth of both the UK and EU pharmaceutical industries.

Preservation of the NHS

There is significant concern that the NHS will be hit hard by Brexit.

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The Health Foundation has reported a 96% drop in EU applicants for nursing roles, and the Royal College of General Practitioners has warned that GP numbers could fall by as much as 2,000 if European workers’ rights are not protected.

Reduced EU investment will also negatively impact NHS participation in global clinical trials, medical research and healthcare technology innovation.

Pharmaceutical companies have a big role to play

It is vital for the UK pharmaceutical industry to be at the forefront of these negotiations if this lucrative sector is to be preserved.

In addition to the bleak forecast for the NHS, UK and European pharmaceutical companies fear the relocation of the EMA from the UK will result in delays in the marketing of new products.

Aside from the ABPI, pharmaceutical representation is currently absent from the BHA.

Pharmaceutical companies will want to increase funding in the sector, and push for medicine regulation that is aligned with existing EU laws.

Continued international collaboration, in addition to representation in Brexit talks, will be needed to maintain the UK’s position as a world leader in the pharmaceutical industry.