George Freeman MP, the UK’s first minister for life sciences, told delegates at Biotrinity in London on Tuesday he has no doubts that a vote to leave the European Union (EU) in June would be detrimental for industry both in the UK and globally.
“The pace of globalisation and pace of growth [in emerging markets], and the change in global demand is causing companies to look at their global footprint, to realign and to consider the UK in a global context,” he told delegates in the plenary session.
“Let me take this opportunity in that context to reiterate very clearly that I and every minister in the department of business as well as the Government and the Cabinet strongly believe that our future is better in the European Union, and in this sector I hear an overwhelming voice that you want to hear us say it and make it clear.”
He pointed out the pharma industry employs over 70,000 people in the UK and is worth close to £60bn ($88bn), and called on the sector to help lead the charge against a potential ‘Brexit’ later this year.
“Over the next few weeks and months I’ll be looking for industry support in a series of rallies to make clear to the electorate that this sector, which is key to our long-term growth, believes and supports our case for remaining in the EU.”
Freeman also stressed the UK wanted to take the lead in the EU’s regulatory framework.
While the European Medicines Agency (EMA) is housed in London, employing over 600, the UK’s own agencies are helping drive regulatory innovations, he said.
“I have launched a major mission with the [European] Commission looking at 21st century enlightened regulation for data , clinical trials, genetics, stem cells,” he added. “Through the MHRA and are other agencies we are disproportionately influential and we need to use that influence.”
Last week, the newly formed British Biosimilars Association (BBA) told us Brexit would be detrimental to business, creating regulatory uncertainties and delaying approvals.
The referendum takes place on June 23.