UK biopharma industry looks to Switzerland ahead of impending Brexit

By Dan Stanton

- Last updated on GMT

Image: iStock/miriam-doerr
Image: iStock/miriam-doerr

Related tags European union Uk

The UK BioIndustry Association will visit Switzerland ahead of Brexit negotiations to learn how to work in Europe without being in the EU.

The UK government is expected to trigger Article 50 of the Treaty of Lisbon tomorrow, beginning a two-year process which will see the country leave the European Union (EU).

While Brexit will affect all areas of UK industry, the biotech and biomanufacturing space could be hit hard, and ensuring continued investment in the sector will be key, said Steve Bates, CEO of the UK BioIndustry Association (BIA).

“Early agreement on key issues like the regulation of medicines, the regime to enable non-UK nationals to work and contribute to the UK life science ecosystem, trade, finance support, market and intellectual property rules, would be the best way to ensure speedy and continuing global inward investment into the UK and EU,”​ he told Biopharma-Reporter.

“It would also be in the best interest of patients who require access to innovative healthcare.”

Until negotiations begin, there is no indication on what the future relationship between the UK and the EU will look like.

“During the negotiation, the BIA will continue to provide dispassionate insight and commentary on the Brexit process,”​ Bates said. “We will continue to make our members’ expertise available to the government and its key agencies in the coming weeks and months as we work through highly complex and technical issues.”

Swiss mission

While no member state has left the economic bloc before, Switzerland successfully works with Europe but outside of the EU and so the BIA is leading a delegation there to discover how the British biotech sector can function after Brexit.

“Switzerland has a strong biotech and pharma sector and has developed a model for working with the rest of Europe but outside of the European Union, and this could offer lessons to the UK in the upcoming negotiations,”​ Bates told us.

“This discovery trip will show new ways of working with Europe, not just to industry representatives but to government officials and regulators, which could feed in possible suggestions for the UK’s new relationship with the EU in the upcoming negotiations.”

The delegation includes representatives from BIA member companies, the Office for Life Sciences and the regulatory agency the MHRA and follows a similar mission earlier this year which saw the BIA forge new links with Canada.

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