This lunch-time panel debate onBrexit and medicines featured Matthew Harpur, First Secretary Health andPharmaceuticals at the UK Permanent Representation to the EU, ElizabethKuiper, Executive Director for Public Affairs at EFPIA, the EuropeanFederation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations, and Simone Boselli,Public Affairs Director at EURORDIS, the European association for rarediseases. This expert panel looked at Brexit’s implications on patients and thepharmaceutical industry in Europe and the UK.
As a member-based organisationrepresenting 862 rare diseases patient organisations from 70 countries,including the EU 28, it was particularly interesting to hear the impact Brexitcould have on different levels at EURORDIS. The biggest consequence for theorganisation would be related to the access to medical knowledge. The close andimportant relationship that the European Union has with the UK in terms ofaccess and exchange of medical knowledge could be damaged if the UK leaves theEU without a deal. The UK population benefits hugely from the medical expertiseof the EU and equally contributes to that knowledge.
Key issues to look out for inBrexit from a patient perspective were outlined in this panel debate. Theyinclude rights in cross-border health care, access and contribution toresearch, regulatory alignment and the continuity of supply chain. Brexit wouldalso have an impact on European Reference Networks (ERNs): 6 of the 24 ERNs areled by the UK at the moment, but even though the Commission has managed to keepthe UK in the ERNs, patients from the UK will lose the expertise from the EUand vice versa in case of Brexit.
A lot is also at stake for thepharmaceutical industry. The biggest impact would be on Research andDevelopment, but it would also affect the supply of medicines, innovation andinvestment. The UK plays a big role in the supply of medicines as they produce60% of the batch release, as well as 70% of the ingredients for chemicaltrials. There are still a lot of uncertainties surrounding Brexit, which is notplaying in the favour of the pharmaceutical industry and EFPIA, and furtherclarification will be needed.
The position of the UK was putforward and clarified during the discussion. It is crucial for the UK tocontinue to engage with the EU, no matter what the outcome of Brexit is. Thereneeds to be a positive relationship moving forward and a close cooperation withthe EU on different areas, including science and innovation. The most importantthing to keep in mind is to make sure that citizens have their rights and thatthe access to medicines will remain as unimpeded as possible.
Nikos Manaras, vice-Chair of theFood, Health and Consumer Task Force at the Chamber, shared his insight of theevent with us: “Most of the Brexit discussions have been focused ontop-level issues. Public health has often been left in the dark and this iswhat we tried to tackle with this event. The panel managed successfully to shedlight on key issues and challenges for patients, industry and policy makers. Ithelped the audience understand what is at stake with regard to access tomedicines, issues with supply chains, preparations made, but also the impact onEurope’s R&D future post-Brexit.”
First Secretary Health and Pharmaceuticals | UK Permanent Representation to EU (UKREP)
Matt Harpur is the First Secretary for Health and Pharmaceuticals at the UK Representation to the EU in Brussels. He has been a British civil servant for nearly 15 years, and has held a range of roles, most recently as Head of the EU and Multilateral team the Department of Health, working on issues relating to the World Health Organization (WHO), Global Health Security, G7 and a wide range of EU business. He has also had two stints working in Private Office and also worked on different roles relating to the life science agenda, including innovation, pharmaceutical pricing and Health Technology Assessment.
| EFPIA - European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations
Elizabeth Kuiper is currently Executive Director for Public Affairs at EFPIA, the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations. In this role, she leads the advocacy and public affairs of EFPIA and maintains a strong network of contacts with policymakers and other stakeholders. She reports directly to EFPIA’s Director-General and works together closely with the other EFPIA directors active on the Brussels scene. Elizabeth previously worked as attaché at the Permanent Representation of the Netherlands to the EU, where she represented the Netherlands in EU negotiations in the field of health, pharmaceuticals and medical devices. Prior to this, Elizabeth worked as political adviser to the Minister of Health, Welfare and Sports in the Dutch cabinet Balkenende-IV, delivering special advice and support on healthcare policy related subjects. This was subsequent to her job at the Dutch Society of Surgeons. Elizabeth studied at the University of Utrecht and holds an MA in Dutch language and literature. A Dutch national, she is fluent in English, French, and German.
Public Affairs Director | EURORDIS