As the seat of the EU agency that regulates medicines and therapies, London has been very attractive to companies on the leading edge of the pharmaceutical and health care industry. The outcome of the Brexit vote puts that geographical advantage very much in play since a fully realized departure of the UK from the EU would almost certainly result in the movement of the European Medicines Agency and its 600 staff out of England. Pharmaceutical companies now headquartered near the current offices of the EMA would also have motivation to leave.
In the past there has been a synergy between the EMA and tbe UK Medical and Health products Regulatory Agency. This would suffer if the EMA departs. Some suggest that the MHRA would be more nimble acting alone. However it also seems true that the UK would still have to conform to EU regulations to remain in that market, while losing its former influence in shaping the rules.
Brexit has other intellectual property implications. The UK was on the point of ratifying the agreement which would implement the EU Unified Patent Court. The UPC was meant to bring agreement on patents to 25 member states, with some advantage to the UK since its courts have been seen as particularly sound in rendering patent judgements. Now the UPC will be at best, delayed, while the details of Brexit are hammered out. Britain could find itself outside the room, trading in a larger market governed by a foreign unified patent system, and litigating offshore to resolve differences. The UK would also be in the middle between US and EU patent law with two potential major contenders in any given matter.
The UK has not internally regulated chemical manufacturing since the 1980s. They are out of practice. Bilateral agreements with other European nations would be cumbersome and the EU REACH chemical regulation system outstrips any single nation’s rules in its breadth and rigor. Again it seems unlikely that the EU would compromise; the UK must then conform.
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