The UK's vote to leave the EU could affect British patients' access to medicines by putting them at the back of the queue.

British patients could end up not being able to access modern medicines if there is a "hard Brexit", a think tank reported.
British patients could end up not being able to access modern medicines if there is a "hard Brexit", a think tank reported.

The United Kingdom's (UK) vote to leave the European Union (EU) could affect British patients' access to medicines by putting them at the back of the queue.

Applications for new licences from Europe which are the part of a market of over 500 million people would take priority over 65 million populated smaller UK market.

Drug makers are currently using the European Medicines Agency as a one-stop-shop to obtain drugs licenced across Europe.

However, Britain could abandon that system if it severs the EU relations.

The UK's leaving the EU single market will put it in a position dubbed as "hard Brexit".

British patients could end up not being able to access modern medicines if there is a "hard Brexit", a think tank report endorsed by a former Conservative health minister warned on Wednesday.

"An approach to leaving the EU which saw ideological considerations placed above securing the right relationship for the economy and for UK patients would see the UK life sciences sector relegated to a second-tier player," said the Public Policy Projects report.

"The result of 'hard Brexit' would not only be a sick economy but sick patients unable to access a cure."

British patients could be at the back of the queue for new medicines if Britain drops out the European system. (Reuters)
British patients could be at the back of the queue for new medicines if Britain drops out the European system. (Reuters)

There is a growing concern since Brexit could hit Britain's successful pharmaceutical and biotechnology sector, given the international nature of science and science-based industry.

"We face a simple choice: we either participate in full in that global scientific community or we prejudice a key British national interest," Stephen Dorrell, who served as a health minister under Conservative Prime Minister John Major in the 1990s, wrote in the report.

Global players of drugs industry like GlaxoSmithKline and AstraZeneca are seeking future assurances from ministers after last week's post-Brexit deal with car maker Nissan.

In addition to concerns over the trade barriers and drug regulation, industry executives also worry about the issues like recruiting foreign staff and loss of EU science funding.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies