Brexit and Health and Social Care Inquiry

On Tuesday 24th January, the Brexit and Health and Social Care Inquiry evidence session was held. Please see below the following exchange from the Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP and Dr Whitford MP about the European Medicines Agency.

“Mr Hunt: “I do not expect us to remain within the European Medicines Agency, but I am very hopeful that we will continue to work very closely with the EMA. This country has a closer relationship with the EMA than any other member state of the EU. The MHRA, which is our national regulator, does around 40% of the testing for the EMA, and it is not just the easy 40%; it is often the most complex and difficult cases. We have the foundations for a sensible, strong partnership, which means that, potentially, we could have mutual recognition between the EMA and the MHRA going forward. I will be open to having the closest possible relationship on those things, but I cannot prejudge the negotiations.

Dr Whitford: Are you suggesting that, if the EMA licensed a drug, the MHRA would automatically license it—that it would not be a separate process?

Mr Hunt: I do not take that possibility off the table. As I said, I will argue for the closest possible regulatory equivalence between the regime we have and the regime that currently exists in the EMA. I am sorry to be a cracked record, but it is all part of the negotiating process, so it is difficult to be more specific.

Dr Whitford: You recognise that, if we cannot do that, we might move into the second rank for drugs being launched. Canada and Australia get access to new drugs six months to a year behind the EU and the US. That is just market science. There is an awful lot to play for.

Mr Hunt: That is precisely why I would like to have the closest possible relationship. The EU has as much to gain as we do from that close relationship, because of the scientific expertise in this country and the extraordinary expertise inside the MHRA itself. We have a very strong scientific base. Around 30% of EU clinical trials have some of their work done in Britain, so we play a very important role.

Dr Whitford: The EMA leads and directs on rare disease research. Will that also be on your shopping list for trying to remain in some form of relationship with it?

Mr Hunt: I hope that it will be on their shopping list as well, because the UK leads on a lot of rare disease research. Our genomics project is world beating. That is something that the EU will want to be available for EU citizens, just as we want to benefit from scientific advances that happen in EU countries.”

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Published 25. January 2017 in News UK