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Brexit Has Left A £30m Funding Black Hole At Medicines Regulator

2 min read

The UK's medicines regulator has privately warned it has lost tens of millions in revenue as a result of Brexit changes.

A senior official from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) said the body was having to adjust to a "new reality" after the disruption to revenue streams following the UK's exit from the European Union.

Sources in the health care sector told PoliticsHome that a senior official at the regulator told industry figures at a recent meeting that regulatory changes as a result of Brexit could cost MHRA between £20-30 million.

Until the UK's exit from the EU, the regulator had earned a significant amount from the European Medicines Agency for its work assessing new drugs for use across the bloc, but the senior MHRA official said as a result of the changes they would have to adapt to a "new setup" post-Brexit.

They warned that while they were "hopeful" they would receive additional funds from the government's spending review that a final decision had not yet been made.

The regulator – which played a vital role during the UK's response to the Covid pandemic – had previously recognised the loss of income from EU work streams after it was reported in late 2021 that as many as 300 staff could be cut amid financial pressures.

News of the job losses prompted concerns from doctor groups and unions that the approval of medicines and other treatments could be delayed and put its reputation at risk.

Ministers had widely praised the regulator for its efforts during the pandemic when it was tasked with approving Covid vaccines and other antiviral treatments used during the pandemic.

A spokesperson for the MHRA did not dispute the figure, but pointed towards the regulator's annual accounts which showed the Department for Health and Social Care had provided £12.8m in additional funding to compensate for the loss of revenue post-Brexit.

They added: "We will continue to be a world-class regulator that delivers the right outcomes for patients while we modernise the services we provide to industry and remain financially stable.

"Our transformation will lead to a reshaping and reskilling of our workforce balanced with increases in revenue and additional efficiencies, taking into account the different functions across the Agency, some of which we expect to grow and some to reduce as we shift to our new role as a progressive, pro-innovation regulator."

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