As Britain’s plans to leave the European Union—Brexit—stagger toward the March 29 deadline, the UK biopharma industry is taking stock of the likely impact.
One big move was simply that the European Medicines Agency (EMA), the equivalent to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), moved its headquarters from London to Amsterdam. During the transition, the EMA was scaling back some of its operations, particularly as it dealt with an expected loss of about 30 percent of its staff.
Major UK drug makers, as well as European drugmakers, such as AstraZeneca,GlaxoSmithKline, Sanofi, Novartis and Roche, all made plans to stockpile extra drugs in preparation for the likelihood of supply chain disruption. More than 2,600 drugs, according to Reuters, have some stage of manufacture in Britain, and 45 million patient packs are supplied from the UK to other European countries, with another 37 million going from Europe to the UK.
In fact, that import number appears to be quite low. Novartis recently indicated that its contingency plans were continuing and the company was making “all preparations possible to ensure continuity of supply to UK patients of the over 120 million packs of medicines we import to the UK from Europe each year.”
An analyst with GlobalData wrote that in the past decade the UK has seen a 16 percent increase in students studying STEM topics. However, the number of EU students studying STEM topics in the UK rose more than 52 percent over the same period, with the number of non-EU students raising more than 63 percent.
In a recent discussion titled “Brexit Impact on Biotech” published by Kineticos Life Sciences Consulting between several industry experts, Derek Hennecke, former president of Capsugel Tampa and former chief executive officer and president of Xcelience before it merged with Capsugel, said, “The money part is definitely important, it’s going to be bad for all of Europe, but specific to the UK, the UK has had a very strong pharma history and I think they’re still going to hold leadership in terms of GMP and regulatory guidance. But the MHRA (UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency) is talking about infrastructure, and knowledge, and leadership, which are all facets. As Mark (Osterman, senior vice president of Kineticos’ Biopharmaceutical Practice) said, money is important, but so are people and knowledge and skills.”