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The UK is exiting the EU on 29 March 2019. The UK and EU negotiating teams have reached agreement on the terms of an implementation period that will start on 30 March 2019 and last until 31 December 2020. We firmly believe it is in the interests of both the EU and the UK to strike a deal. That remains the goal on both sides and we are confident that this will be achieved.
However, a responsible government should prepare for all potential outcomes, including the unlikely scenario in which no mutually satisfactory agreement can be reached and that is exactly what we are doing, with this consultation forming part of these preparations.
The overall approach in no-deal is for the MHRA to be a stand-alone medicines and medical devices regulator, taking any decisions and carrying out any functions which are currently taken or carried out at EU-level. This would include decisions on Marketing Authorisation (MA) applications which are currently authorised through the Centralised Procedure, paediatric investigation plans and orphan status, as well as pharmacovigilance responsibilities.
We firmly believe it is in the interests of both the EU and the UK to strike a deal. That remains the goal on both sides and we are confident that this will be achieved.
But it is the job of a responsible government to prepare for all scenarios, including the unlikely event that we reach March 2019 without agreeing a deal.
For two years, the government has been implementing a significant programme of work to ensure the UK will be ready for EU Exit in all scenarios, including a potential ‘no deal’ outcome.
It has always been the case that as we get nearer to March 2019, preparations for a ‘no deal’ scenario would have to be accelerated. Such an acceleration does not reflect an increased likelihood of a ‘no deal’ outcome. Rather it is about ensuring our plans are in place in the unlikely scenario that they need to be relied upon.
As part of this, the Government is committed to providing the wider healthcare industry with as much certainty as possible about the UK’s preparations for our exit from the EU, under any scenario. The publication of the technical notices, such as those for the life sciences sector, demonstrated this commitment by providing guidance on many aspects of regulation for the life sciences sector in a no deal.
It is also appropriate to consult on some of the key proposed changes to ensure input from industry, allied healthcare professionals, medical charities and the public. This consultation builds on the technical notice ‘How medicines, medical devices and clinical trials would be regulated if there’s no Brexit deal’. It seeks views on the mechanics behind some of the policies set out in the technical notice, as well as some areas not covered in the technical notice.
Should we not achieve our desired relationship with the EU, the Government will ensure that patients are not disadvantaged by the future regulatory regime. We will establish a regulatory system that continues to protect the interests of patients and strengthens the UK life sciences industry. The UK life sciences industry has much to offer in creating, developing, trialling and commercialising medicines that will benefit UK patients and strengthen the ability of the UK to compete internationally.
In the unlikely event of a no-deal scenario, the MHRA would be a stand-alone medicines and medical devices regulator, taking any decisions and carrying out any functions which are currently taken or carried out at EU-level. This would include new innovative licensing routes, the possibility of new global partnerships, and a competitive fee structure.
Whatever the exit scenario, we will continue to ensure that UK patients are able to access the best and most innovative medicines and medical devices and that their safety is protected.