Nearly half (45 percent) of members of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations members are expecting trade delays if the UK and Europe fail to reach a deal for Brexit.

To prevent such delays, which is critical for patients to access their medicines, the EU and UK should “agree a comprehensive agreement that ensures maximum alignment between EU and UK pharmaceutical laws,” the Association stressed.

The call comes after EFPIA research highlighted that more 2,600 final medicine products have some stage of manufacture based in the UK, that 45 million patient packs are supplied from the UK to other EU-27/EEA countries each month, and that over 37 million patient packs are supplied from the EU-27/EEA to the UK each month.

Additionally, more than 12,000 centrally authorised Marketing Authorisations (MAs) for medicines will require separate approval in the UK in order for the medicine to be prescribed to patients. Around 17 percent of centralised MAs are held in the UK.

Also, there are over 1,500 clinical trials being conducted in multiple EU member states that have a UK-based sponsor, over 50 percent of which are scheduled to continue beyond March 2019, according to the EFPIA’s survey, which it notes “underlines the importance of scientific research collaboration between the UK and EU.”

“The survey underlines the scale of the task ahead,” noted EFPIA director general Nathalie Moll. “For life saving and life improving medicines, the EU and UK cannot afford to wait any longer to ensure that the necessary cooperation on medicines is in place from the day the UK leaves the EU.

“Securing ongoing cooperation on medicines regulation between the UK and EU is the best way of ensuring that patients across Europe continue to have access to safe and effective medicines.”

The call comes hot on the heels of a warning by UK think-tank The Nuffield Trust that leaving the EU without a deal would risk a “chaotic disruption” to the medicines supply chain, and a rise in prices that would push hospitals deeper into deficit.