BREXIT and the UK Pharmaceutical Industry


01 Feb 2019

BREXIT and the UK Pharmaceutical Industry

The current impasse over Brexit has affected a large number of businesses in the UK and has created a high degree of uncertainty in the Pharmaceutical Industry as drug development relies heavily on the political and regulatory conditions of the country which can require planning years in advance.

One of the early casualties in the UK Pharmaceutical industry is the European Medicines Agency, (EMA), which has made the decision to move its headquarters from London to Amsterdam, with the loss of 900 jobs. The move from the UK could also potentially cause large changes in the regulations for medicinal products being developed and tested in the UK.

Amid the current political chaos, the European Pharma sector is seeking action to ensure patients across the EU and UK receive their medication should a ‘no deal’ Brexit situation arise in March to avoid a significant threat to patient safety and public health in the UK and Europe. The industry is calling for the Brexit negotiators to include measures to keep public health top priority by allowing the EU to recognise UK-Based quality drug testing and to include priority routes for medicines into ports and airports with paperwork and regulatory checks being allowed to be completed away from the boarder.

Sadly, Brexit has prompted a large number of scientists and physicians within the Pharmaceutical industry to move away from Britain making it harder for companies to continue to build their teams for drug development as well as building medical affairs and commercial teams for post-development selling. With this in mind, some Pharmaceutical companies are protecting the right of EU and Swiss Nationals in the UK; if they arrive in the UK before the transition period in the UK ends their existing rights will be covered by law for their and their family’s lifetime.

The change in freedom of movement will also create difficulty in getting top talent to companies and one of Penna’s aims for 2019 is to ensure Biotechnology and Pharmaceutical companies have access to the world’s top talent within the Life Science field. We are continuing to do this by having long-term relationships with candidates globally and encouraging and supporting the development of home grown talent.

Penna Life Sciences


Amelia Watkins

Consultant, Executive Search