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HDA UK Media And Political Bulletin – 8 January 2018

Media and Political Bulletin

8 January 2018

Media Summary

UK in push to remain part of EU medicines agency after Brexit

Financial Times, George Parker, Sarah Neville, Jim Pickard, 8 January 2018

The Financial Times reports that Britain is pushing to remain under EU regulation for medicines after Brexit. The publication highlights that this is the latest sign that ministers want to stay close to Europe in some sectors despite the bloc warning the UK that it cannot “cherry-pick” parts of the single market.

Three senior government figures have told the Financial Times that the UK hopes to be regulated by the European Medicines Agency, even as the body moves from London’s Canary Wharf to a new post-Brexit home in Amsterdam.

Pharma industry leaders have warned of the consequences for patients in both the UK and Europe if some form of regulatory harmonisation cannot be achieved. Around 45 million packs of medicines are supplied from the UK to other European countries each month, while more than 37 million packs come from Europe to the UK.

Commons Science and Technology Committee to hold summit on Brexit and scientific innovation

The Pharmaceutical Journal, 5 January 2018

The Pharmaceutical Journal underlines that the House of Commons Science and Technology Committee is to host a summit on how Brexit will affect the future of scientific innovation in the UK.

The summit will focus on the risks Brexit could produce for the sector, as well as possible opportunities. The committee is currently asking for written submissions and inviting interested parties to take part in the summit itself.

The committee wants to hear views on the advantages, disadvantages and uncertainties for science, research and innovation following the outcome of initial Brexit discussions; the government’s future partnership paper ‘Collaboration on science and innovation’; the UK’s future participation in EU research programme, Horizon 2020; and whether recently agreed science co-operation deals with non-EU countries represent a good model for collaboration with other countries post-Brexit.

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UK in push to remain part of EU medicines agency after Brexit

Financial Times, George Parker, Sarah Neville, Jim Pickard, 8 January 2018

Britain is pushing to remain under EU regulation for medicines after Brexit in the latest sign that ministers want to stay close to Europe in some sectors despite the bloc warning the UK cannot “cherry-pick” parts of the single market.

The move follows calls for the UK’s chemicals and aviation industries to continue to be regulated by EU agencies, keeping them within Europe’s standards and safety regime and under the auspices of the European Court of Justice.

Three senior government figures have told the Financial Times that the UK hopes to be regulated by the European Medicines Agency, even as the body moves from London’s Canary Wharf to a new post-Brexit home in Amsterdam.

Greg Clark, business secretary, is also backing demands from Britain’s chemicals sector to stay within the EU’s Chemicals Agency, while Chris Grayling, transport secretary, last month told the aviation industry Britain would continue to be regulated by the EU after Brexit.

The proposals would put parts of the British economy under the indirect jurisdiction of the ECJ, threatening to breach “red lines” set out by Theresa May in her October 2016 Tory conference speech.

But one government official said the ECJ “red line” had been blurred since the departure of Nick Timothy, Mrs May’s pro-Brexit former co-chief of staff, from Downing Street last June. “It’s not quite so rigid now,” the official said.

Pharma industry leaders have warned of the consequences for patients in both the UK and Europe if some form of regulatory harmonisation cannot be achieved. Around 45m packs of medicines are supplied from the UK to other European countries each month, while more than 37m packs come from Europe to the UK.

Jeremy Hunt, health secretary, and Mr Clark signalled their support for Britain having an ongoing relationship with the EMA in a joint letter to the FT last July.

Their position has hardened in recent months as the pharmaceutical sector has stepped up its lobbying on the issue. The Department of Health declined to comment but referred to the July letter.

Steve Bates, head of the BioIndustry Association, told the health select committee last month that the complex issues surrounding the regulation of medicines and their supply chain “need to be front and centre in the second phase of talks”.

Michel Barnier, the EU’s chief negotiator, has warned Britain it cannot “cherry pick” parts of the single market but Sarah Wollaston, Tory chair of the Commons health committee, said she hoped that “common sense” would prevail.

Speaking in a personal capacity, she said: “There is a very strong case for allowing flexibility for sector deals, especially when it’s in the best interests of patients both here and in Europe.”

Mrs May’s cabinet will this year have to decide where different parts of the British economy should be assigned as negotiations begin on a future trade deal with the EU.

Cabinet “divergers” such as Boris Johnson and Michael Gove want as much of the economy put into a category that would see Britain free to set its own rules, even if it pursued similar regulatory outcomes to the EU.

But other sectors heavily regulated and closely integrated with the EU are likely to be placed closer to the union. Mrs May hinted at this in her Florence speech last year when she said “we want to achieve the same goals in the same ways”.

Ministers accept that breaking with the EU in areas such as aviation, medicines and chemicals would cause serious disruption. The price could be accepting a role for the ECJ in settling disputes and payments to Brussels for the right to participate.

David Prior, life sciences minister until October, said that it would be “fantastic” if the UK stayed in the EMA, warning of a negative impact on inward investment if it did not.

“It would be a very good idea, because having one regulatory system for drug approvals is very important for UK patients — otherwise we will be behind everyone else and not have as good access to new drugs as other people in Europe,” he said.

“Pharmaceutical companies tend to go to the US, then the EU, it’s very important we are not left behind. If you’re a drug company, you tend to look for approval from the FDA, then the EMA, then everyone else.”

Commons Science and Technology Committee to hold summit on Brexit and scientific innovation

The Pharmaceutical Journal, 5 January 2018

The House of Commons Science and Technology Committee is to host a summit on how Brexit will affect the future of scientific innovation in the UK.

It will focus on the risks Brexit could produce for the sector, as well as possible opportunities. The committee is asking for written submissions and inviting interested parties to take part in the summit itself.

The summit will be held in February, on a date to be decided, with the intention to present its findings as the UK government begins its second stage of negotiations with the EU on Brexit.

The committee wants to hear views on the advantages, disadvantages and uncertainties for science, research and innovation following the outcome of initial Brexit discussions; the government’s future partnership paper ‘Collaboration on science and innovation’; the UK’s future participation in EU research programme, Horizon 2020; and whether recently agreed science co-operation deals with non-EU countries represent a good model for collaboration with other countries post-Brexit.

The committee’s chair, Norman Lamb, said: “The UK’s decision to leave the EU has presented the science and innovation sector with its greatest challenge in generations. If we are to confront this challenge effectively so that we protect and enhance science in the UK, it is crucial that the science community’s voice is heard now.

“We stand at a vital crossroads in the Brexit negotiations. By holding this summit before the next stage of negotiations commence, we can ensure that our priorities are clear and our demands are delivered right to the heart of government.”

Written evidence can be submitted via the committee’s inquiry page by 5 February 2018. Anyone interested in taking part in the summit can contact the committee at scitechcom@parliament.uk by 31 January 2018 using “Nomination for summit” in the title box.

HDA UK Media And Political Bulletin – 8 January 2018

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