The impact of Brexit on the pharma industry is a topic close to our hearts here at Hanson Zandi (HZ). That’s no surprise, given that we have such strong business links with our friends in Europe. The problem, of course, is that we are currently swimming in a sea of uncertainty, together with the rest of the UK and the wider world. Happily, we’re great swimmers here at HZ!
It would seem that the UK is leaving the European Union: goodbye, adiós, adieu, auf wiedersehen. You get the picture. But then again, even that seemingly obvious conclusion is far from clear. In fact, until Article 50 of the Lisbon Treaty is triggered by Her Majesty’s Government, we are still very much part of the EU.
On the balance of probabilities though, the UK will trigger Article 50 at some point in the next year, then leave the EU two years later. After all, our glorious leader has said “Brexit means Brexit.” And as we know, politicians never change their mind or renege on their promises.
Whatever Brexit may bring, pharma has the advantage of being relatively sheltered from the storms of political and economic uncertainty. Sadly, that’s largely because disease and illness are an ever-present part of the human condition, necessitating an ongoing stream of new medicines and treatments. But it’s also because major pharma companies are global giants, with highly diversified markets.
Ideally, the UK will be able to remain part of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) in some shape or form. That would avoid the need for companies to seek separate approval for their products in the UK and the EU. The EMA currently delegates its UK work to the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA). As the MHRA is well respected by our continental cousins, it seems unlikely that it would be jettisoned purely in the interests of political expediency.
When it comes to scientific research and development, the UK has a proven record of excellence, working with companies both inside and outside of the EU. There are, however, understandable concerns about EU funding following Brexit. In reality though, this may not be as great a problem as it first appears. That’s because the awarding of EU grants is often not predicated on being a member of the EU. In fact, non-EU countries such as Switzerland benefit hugely from EU research funding.
The UK government may even choose to increase research funding following Brexit, or offer tax incentives to support it. Brexit would also make it easier to recruit scientists and researchers from outside of the EU. People with the skills we need would continue to be recruited from within the EU too of course, so no change there. In theory at least, the UK would be able to attract high caliber individuals from around the globe, with minimal bureaucratic interference.
Whatever the future may bring, HZ will adapt, delivering the highest possible levels of creativity and service, as we have done for the past 30 years. In the short-term at least, the weakening of the pound means one clear advantage for our clients in the Eurozone: we now offer even greater value!