The publication of the proposed withdrawal agreement for the UK to leave the EU has been criticised for its lack of detail on the future of healthcare across the continent.
Published on 14 November 2018, the 585-page document does set out some technical details on medicines regulation, but the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) said it was “extremely concerning that the withdrawal agreement fails to specifically address the health issues important to patients, their safety and the wider public health”.
Nathalie Moll, director general at the EFPIA, said: “While we welcome the commitment to create a ‘free trade area combining deep regulatory and customs cooperation’ referred to in the political declaration, its failure to contain an explicit reference to the importance of securing long-term, extensive cooperation around the regulation of medicines is not in the best interest of patients.”
The publication of the document sparked a number of resignations from Theresa May’s government, and there is no guarantee that Parliament will approve the proposals.
Sarah Wollaston, chair of the House of Commons health and social care select committee, also expressed dismay at the content of the withdrawal agreement.
She wrote on Twitter: “Shockingly, absolutely nothing in the future framework document about health, care, public health or research. Yet this is an area which profoundly touches the lives of every citizen in the UK and across our partner EU nations.”
The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) welcomed the confirmation in the document that there will be a transition period following Brexit, assuming the agreement receives political support in Brussels and London.
Although ABPI staff were still analysing details of the document the day after it was published, Mike Thompson, chief executive of the ABPI, said in a statement: “Agreeing a transition period will mean that our members can continue to supply medicines to patients without delay or disruption come March 2019.”