The Scottish government has said it is “likely that the cost of new medicines in the UK will increase” under a no-deal Brexit.
The warning was made in a ‘Scottish government overview of no-deal preparations’, published on 8 October 2019. The document lists what the Scottish government sees as the potential impacts of a no-deal scenario and outlines plans to mitigate the impact of this scenario on Scotland.
It also says that changes to the UK medicines licensing process “may result in slower access to new medicines and medicine shortages”, and warns of “myriad impacts” to the NHS and social care in Scotland: particularly around supplies of medicines and medical devices, and on the workforce.
In a consideration of general no-deal Brexit impacts, the report warns of a “significant reduction” in both imports and exports, and says that the impact of this on Scotland could, potentially, be larger that the rest of the UK because of the nation’s geography.
Listing actions it has taken to mitigate impact, the report says the government has established a Scottish Medicines Shortage Response Group to “review evidence and intelligence, recommend action and instigate escalation to the UK Medicines Shortage Response Group”.
However, it adds that the quality of engagement between the UK and Scottish government “has deteriorated since the appointment of the current government in July ”, and claims that Scottish ministers were invited to “only 8 out of over 50 meetings of the new [Exit Operations] Committee”. This, it says, is limiting that ability of both governments to effectively plan for no-deal.
It is, the report notes, “important to note that leaving the EU with a deal would also involve significant levels of hardship for Scotland”.
The Scottish report was released on the same day that that the UK government published its own ‘No-deal readiness report’, which argues that Brexit could lead to opportunities that “may include innovative regulation of novel advanced therapies and medicines, and a streamlined approach to clinical trial reporting and conduct”, supported by fast track visas for “world-leading scientists”.
The UK government is, its report says, introducing “light-touch processes” to allow businesses, including those in the medical sector, “to convert existing EU approvals into UK approvals”.
The UK report says that the government is continuing to work with the Scottish and Welsh governments and the Northern Ireland civil service to prepare for a potential no-deal Brexit.