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Drug manufacturers wade into Brexit debate

ABPI chief executive Mike Thompson says members are "overwhelmingly supportive" of remaining in Europe

The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) has stepped into the Brexit debate by claiming that remaining in Europe gives patients "faster access to new medicines".

Manufacturers are “overwhelmingly supportive” of remaining in the EU, ABPI chief executive Mike Thompson said yesterday (May 9).

EU membership brings a range of benefits to patients and the pharmaceutical industry, Mr Thompson said. In contrast, Brexit risks "the breakdown of international collaboration between scientists, doctors and industry, which could slow down access to new drugs for UK patients".

Drug licensing delays

“With the European Medicines Agency, pharmaceutical companies have a one-stop shop for centralised licensing of new medicines and treatments across Europe,” he said. “If we left the EU, the licensing of new medicines would have to be handled by a UK agency as well as a European agency."

“Our members have confirmed that the applications for a UK licence would come after the European licence, due to the smaller patient population in the UK,” he said.


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Cuts to research funding

Mr Thompson stressed that EU research and development funding allows the UK to “punch above its weight globally”.

This funding would be cut if Britain voted to leave the EU, which would put the UK’s “enviable position” as one of the “premier European destinations for ground-breaking research and clinical trials” in jeopardy, said Mr Thompson.

Remaining in the EU would also encourage global pharmaceutical companies to continue investing in the UK, he added.

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