Brexit is a threat to the NHS and with MPs suggesting that ‘health tourists’ are to blame for the crisis, detracts from the main issue of defunding by the government. The little known or talked about european medicines agency (EMA) is now at risk due to Brexit and its loss would be a grave mistake by the government and for the NHS. After John Major battled to secure its location in London, another Conservative government looks to have put it in danger.

The EMA oversees medicine regulations across Europe and is responsible for scientific evaluation of human and veterinary medicines developed by Pharmaceutical companies, it has been around for two decades.

What is the EMA?

The task of the EMA is to ensure that all medicines across Europe are safe, effective and of high quality, plus, it also works to harmonise the approach of national regulatory bodies. Located in London’s Canary Wharf, it staffs around 900-highly skilled workers and services the 500 million people across the EU, which accounts for 25% of all global pharmaceutical sales. The UK accounts for just 3% of the global market. In 2015 the UKs pharmaceutical industry was worth £12.7 billion and 25% of top prescriptions in the world were discovered and developed in the UK.

The effect of Brexit could cause delays in approvals for new medicines; Canada and Australia experience delays of around 6 months to a year after the EU.

An extra Burden could end up being placed on the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), leading to a slower process and less efficient system. This means that the NHS would receive vital medicines a lot later than they do now, leading to worse patient care.

Also, with the threat of relocation elsewhere it could create a knock-on effect in investment and relocation from pharmaceutical companies away from the UK, this would further weaken the UK economy.

We would also immediately lose 900 highly skilled workers as well as 1299 others who have a “qualified person for pharmacovigilance” (QPPV), this is must for any company that sells into the EEA. The relocation of the EMA would mean that all the QPPVs in the UK would leave or lose their roles.

Further risk to the NHS

Negotiations are ongoing but it is crucial that the government gets this right, but this further highlights that the government lacks any real insight into what is wrong with NHS. They are either blind to issues or this is a purposeful act, and now with some MPs placing blame on ‘health tourists’, the issues of Brexit and defunding are overlooked and ignored.