Negative impact of Brexit on patients now - Dierks

Brexit is already having a negative impact on patients, according to Dr Christian Dierks of German-based life sciences consultancy Dierks + Company. "We are tied up in regulatory analysis, instead of creating medical improvement," he said, "globalisation will continue whether it is the EU27 or the EU28. We need to look forward - AI, gene typing, personalised medicine. It's never been so exciting, and it's never been so fast."

Speaking at the 10th Pharmaceutical Industry Network Group (PING) Conference in Hatfield, Dr Dierks said the vast majority of the German population want Britain to stay in the EU. They view the EU as providing political stability first, with the economic arguments second. "The German view is that together we stand united as a strong power facing a lot of challenges, and that an EU without the UK, with a deal or without one, is not beneficial for European citizens, nor consumers nor patients." 

Trade between the UK and Germany is worth €119bn; 750,000 jobs in Germany depend on trade with the UK. German investments in the UK employed 400,000 people, 270,000 people were employed in Germany by British companies. Reflecting on his recent discussions in Germany about the impact of Brexit, Dr Dierks said Germany was not really prepared. "Like in the UK, we don't know what to prepare for." Trade between the UK and Germany is worth €119bn; 750,000 jobs in Germany depend on it. Some 400,000 people are employed in the UK by German companies; 270,000 people are employed in Germany by British companies. He said one in five German businesses trade with the UK, but 70 per cent of those businesses expect that trade to deteriorate, with expectations of higher customs duties, import taxes and legal uncertainty. "Pharma on both sides of the channel will suffer from Brexit, with or without a deal. We can mitigate these effects with resilience, pragmatism and cooperation…creating solutions that overcome regulatory burdens to focus on patient care.”  

Also at the Conference, Ethical Medicines Industry Group (EMIG) chair Leslie Galloway said that "businesses, particularly healthcare businesses, thrive on certainty and the last three years have undermined their ability to invest and grow….hopefully soon, we will be able to deal with those challenges head on" while there was a plea from NSF Pharma Biotech's executive director Dr Peter Gough for regulators in the UK and EU to "put patients first and adopt pragmatic positions regarding the application and regulations".

Dr Jonathan Sheffield, chief executive of the Clinical Research Network at the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR), was more positive. He said that in terms of clinical trials, work continues to increase regardless of Brexit. "There has been relentless investment in improving the life sciences research environment, which now makes UK the best place globally to conduct clinical trials of all phases."

Over 120 delegates from the pharma supply chain attended the Conference, which was organised by lawyers and parliamentary agents VWV, and held for the second successive year on the impact of Brexit. 

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