The UK pharmaceutical industry is more likely to thrive if the UK remains part of the European Union, the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) has commented. “Our members are overwhelmingly supportive of remaining in the EU," said Mike Thompson, chief executive officer.
Processes for licensing of new medicines could be slower out of the EU, the organisation suggested.
"We believe that staying in the EU will mean that patients in the UK will be more likely to get faster access to new medicines than if we left. With the European Medicines Agency, pharmaceutical companies have a one stop shop for centralised licencing of new medicines and treatments across Europe. If we left the EU this would mean that 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 UK license would come after the European license due to the smaller patient population in the UK."
Funding and international collaboration between scientists, doctors and industry could also be affected.
"As a nation we benefit hugely from EU funding for research and development – more than any other EU country – and this has helped drive medicines research across a whole range of diseases, including cancer, dementia and diabetes. An EU exit would create a funding gap which would need to be filled if the UK is to continue punching above its weight globally in research and development of new treatments," said Mr Thompson.
Staying in the EU could also encourage global pharmaceutical companies to continue to invest, employ, research, manufacture and export in the UK, rather than elsewhere, said the ABPI.