Medical research threatened by Brexit – report
The Brexit Health Alliance called for both the UK and EU to agree on future scientific co-operation.
British patients could be stopped from taking part in potentially lifesaving clinical trials as a result of Brexit, health experts have warned.
An alliance of organisations including NHS bodies and medical researchers warned projects could be threatened unless the UK and European Union agree on continued co-operation after Brexit.
The Brexit Health Alliance said there was uncertainty over whether UK researchers would be able to continue to receive EU funding, work with colleagues from other member states and take part in pan-European studies,
Time is running out and with little more than 12 months before Britain leaves the EU, we need to settle this uncertainty as soon as possible Niall Dickson, Brexit Health Alliance
The paper highlights the work of paediatric cancer specialists trialling a chemotherapy treatment for children and young adults with recurring neuroblastoma.
This rare form of cancer affects around 100 children every year in the UK and the small number of patients affected means that no single European country could have run a trial with sufficient patients.
Niall Dickson, co-chairman of the Brexit Health Alliance, said: “We need to make sure UK and EU patients do not lose out as the UK leaves the EU.
“If patients are to continue to benefit from early access to new and better treatments, health technologies and cutting-edge medicines, we have to be able to take part in multinational research programmes and clinical trials.
“We have achieved so much through co-operation with European partners and this must continue.
“This can be done if the will is there – what patients need is an agreement which enables maximum co-operation in research and innovation between the EU and the UK, and maximum alignment with the rules regulating medicines and medical devices across Europe.
“But time is running out and with little more than 12 months before Britain leaves the EU, we need to settle this uncertainty as soon as possible.
“Let’s put patients first – both the UK Government and European Commission must make reaching an agreement on future research cooperation a priority.”
A Department for Exiting the EU spokesman said: “It is in both parties’ interests to continue to collaborate on major science, technology and research initiatives, including clinical trials, and we want to ensure this work continues as part of our new relationship.
“That is why we published a future partnership paper outlining the UK’s objectives for an ambitious science and innovation agreement with the EU.”