Ministers pushing to ‘keep Britain in European medicines agency after Brexit’

Posted On: 
8th January 2018

Ministers are reportedly attempting to keep the UK under European regulation in medicines after the country quits the EU.

European Medicines Agency office at Canary Wharf, London
PA Images

Three senior government figures have told the Financial Times that the UK hopes to stick with the European Medicines Agency, despite the body being set to move from London to Amsterdam following Brexit.

The plan would keep Britain under the indirect jurisdiction of the European Court of Justice however, despite quitting the institution being among Theresa May’s “red lines”.

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The paper quotes one Government official as saying that the ECJ “red line” had been blurred since the departure Mrs May’s co-chief of staff Nick Timothy in June, adding: “It’s not quite so rigid now.”

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt and Business Secretary Greg Clark have previously said they want to continue to work closely with European Medicines, while pharmaceutical firms are said to have upped their lobbying in a bid to keep Britain closely connected to the body.

The move could face opposition from the EU’s chief negotiator Michel Barnier however, who said the UK would not be able to “cherry-pick” the benefits of membership of the bloc once it has left in March 2019.

However Sarah Wollaston, Tory chair of the Commons health committee, told the paper that she hoped “common sense” would prevail.

She added: “There is a very strong case for allowing flexibility for sector deals, especially when it’s in the best interests of patients both here and in Europe.”