Brexit and the pharma industry


Phil Lucas | MPH
10 minute read

Brexit is causing concerns regarding the effect it will have on the pharmaceutical industry and the supply of medicines to patients.

Our key concerns and implications for the sector are around regulation, research and development, trade, investment, and supply.


Access to the UK market could be delayed due to the loss of single marketing authorisation through the EMA. Furthermore, the EMA has relocated to Amsterdam which is a ‘bitter pill to swallow’

Scientific research & development

The level of UK participation in future EU research and development programmes is still unclear. A no-deal Brexit could mean the loss of around £0.5bn of funding, and throw UK leadership positions and projects into disarray.


Increased costs and cashflow issues could arise if trade with the EU became subject to duties or import VAT.  Research by the Nuffield Trust reports that permanent product price increases for the NHS could add up to £2.3 bn in extra costs for the NHS by the end of 2019/20.


The UK may lose access to EU funds ultimately reducing funding access and venture capital investments for SMEs. This could mean the loss of €2.5bn annually from the European Structural Investment (ESI) funds, a €2m loss from the European Investment Fund (EIF) and a massive hole left from the potential loss of European Investment Bank (EIB) funding, which has contributed €117bn over its lifetime to the UK. This would also diminish the UK’s ability to attract talent and impact our research reputation.

Supply chain & operations

Regulatory changes will impact supply chains. Companies are stockpiling drugs after warnings that there could be an interruption to supplies of medications. AstraZeneca announced it would increase its stockpile of drugs by 20% to cover the Brexit transition period. Despite these contingency plans, people are still concerned about the impact on operational supply chains.

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