Pharmaceutical industry leaders have welcomed Prime Minister Theresa May's ambition to ensure that Great Britain is "one of the best places in the world for science and innovation" post Brexit.

In her long-awaited speech on 'the plan' for the UK's separation from the European Union, May spoke of the country's "proud history of leading and supporting cutting-edge research and innovation," and stressed that "agreement to continue to collaborate with our European partners on major science, research, and technology initiatives" is welcome.

The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry is "pleased that the Prime Minister has identified Britain becoming the best place for science and innovation as one of her twelve negotiation priorities," said its chief executive Mike Thompson. "Our continued leadership in this area will be crucial in creating a truly 'global Britain'."

"The Prime Minister has also said today that the UK's new relationship with the EU will be set out by the end of the two-year period following the triggering of Article 50. Throughout this period, we will seek to secure the UK's continued cooperation and alignment with EU rules for the regulation of medicines. This will be the best possible outcome for UK patients," he added.

Also responding to May's Brexit speech, Dr Mark Porter, British Medical Association council chair, said the prime minister "must deliver on her promise to guarantee the rights of EU nationals in Britain, and Britons living in Europe, as soon as possible", given that the NHS "is struggling to cope with mounting pressures and significant staff shortages".

"There are more than 10,000 doctors from the European Economic Area working in the NHS, so it is vital for the stability of the NHS and the future of medical research, that the government removes the ongoing uncertainty and grants them permanent residence."

He also noted that "the immigration system must remain flexible enough to recruit doctors from overseas, especially where the UK workforce is unable to fill vacant roles," he added, and stressed that "as pressures continue to grow, it is vital that the current EU regulations which protect doctors from overwork, and protect patients from overtired doctors, are preserved and not repealed or limited in any way for new workers."