UK and EU pharmaceutical industry bodies ABPI and EFPIA have joined forces to ask the UK government and the European Commission to prioritise medicines in upcoming trade talks.

The ABPI and EFPIA have maintained that the supply of medicines for 500 million patients across the EU and UK must be protected in Brexit trade talks.

In addition, the industry bodies have implored both governments to safeguard the significant opportunities that working together on medicines research and development brings to both economies.

The joint statement comes as health systems across Europe face a surge in coronavirus cases alongside acute winter pressures, bringing into sharp focus the need for negotiations that do not exacerbate these challenges.

Both trade bodies have continually said that getting a comprehensive trade deal is the best outcome for the UK and EU. If no deal is reached, avoidable, short-term medicine supply delays will be likely, as well as long-term economic damage to the UK and EU economies.

“The coronavirus pandemic has stretched hospitals and medicine supply chains to their capacity,” said Richard Torbett, chief executive of the ABPI.

“It is absolutely clear that it’s in nobody’s interest – and certainly not patients – to face the future with uncertainty around how medicines will be regulated, tested and moved throughout Europe and the UK.

“The UK government and European Commission have an opportunity to end this uncertainty and strengthen healthcare systems with an agreement on medicines whilst negotiations continue,” he added.

The ABPI and EFPIA, in particular, are calling on the UK government and EU Commission to prioritise:

  • Negotiating a ‘Mutual Recognition Agreement’ for medicines manufacturing
  • Agree to a one-year ‘phase-in’ of the Northern Ireland protocol with respect to medicines, starting from the point when there is agreement on its interpretation.