EU patients may miss out on medicines in no-deal Brexit, says AstraZeneca

Pharmaceutical giant AstraZeneca has warned that patients in the European Union may not be able to receive vital medicines from the UK if the company does not successfully prepare for a no-deal .

The manufacturer of cancer, heart and lung drugs told an official Dutch government website that it was going to have to test medicines in both the UK and the EU to ensure they could cross the border in all Brexit scenarios.

But AstraZeneca conceded that it could not guarantee it will succeed, and emphasised that in its case it could be EU citizens who will be at risk, because many of its drugs are manufactured and quality tested in the UK.

Ad Antonisse, the company’s Dutch external affairs director, told the Brexit-loket website: “If we do not prepare well for Brexit, patients in the EU may no longer be able to receive their medicines. Just because production happens to happen in the United Kingdom.”

Ministers have repeatedly talked up the possibility of a no-deal Brexit over the past month as the UK attempts to persuade the that it could walk away unless there is a breakthrough in talks, which have stalled over trade and customs arrangements.

Professor Jean McHale, a health care law specialist at Birmingham University, said: “Access to medicines and drugs is one of the most important healthcare issues that will have to be dealt with in an no-deal Brexit scenario. The government has to ensure there will be some sort of reciprocal arrangement to ensure smooth movement of drugs across borders.”

AstraZeneca is one of the world’s leading pharmaceutical companies, employing 6,700 people in the UK, and running its worldwide research from Cambridge. It specialises in oncology drugs to treat cancer as well as treatments for respiratory and cardiovascular conditions.

“These are serious diseases and you don’t want Brexit to have a problem with delivery to the patient,” Antonisse said, adding: “We are therefore preparing for the hardest Brexit scenario.”

 

 

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