Brexit Contingency Plans for Pharma Industry

The EU currently supplies two-thirds of the medicines in the UK. How will Brexit affect pharmaceutical investments and manufacturing?

Pharma Brexit / Image: Cath Levett
Pharma Brexit / Image: Cath Levett

A recent article from The Guardian discussed how Brexit will affect the pharmaceutical industry, and how big firms are reacting. With manufacturing costs expected to rise, companies are halting investment. As a senior executive at the Japanese firm Eisai put it, “Nobody likes uncertainty. We are not making any new investments in the UK until there is clarity.” Novartis and Pfizer both announced plans to close UK manufacturing or packaging sites by 2020, they both companies claim the decisions were not linked to Brexit.

Experts in the pharmaceutical industry fear that Brexit will deter skilled scientists from coming to the UK, while researchers may face freeze-outs from EU-funded research collaborations. In preparation for a no-deal Brexit, some companies have begun stockpiling medicines, created redundant drug tests, transferred licenses, and coordinated plans to ship drugs to and from the EU on government leased ferries. The article concludes with company profiles outlining the status of 8 major pharma companies in the UK: GlaxoSmithKline, AstraZeneca, Pfizer, Roche, MSD, Novartis, Eli Lilly, and Sanofi.

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