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Following the publication of data from the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA), which has revealed that each month 45 million patient packs of medicine move from the UK to the EU27/EEA, and that 37 million patient packs travel in the other direction, a group of organisations representing patients, healthcare professionals, and the health care industry have today (7th December) called on the EU and UK to prioritise patients in the Brexit negotiations.

In light of this, Oliver O’ Connor, Irish Pharmaceutical Healthcare Association (IPHA) CEO, has stated:  “It is essential that the concerns of such a wide ranging group on the risks of Brexit on patients and public health across Europe be sufficiently taken on board”.

This healthcare group policy statement has been published just one week ahead of the crunch European Council meeting where negotiators will decide if the Article 50 negotiations can move beyond ‘phase one’.

The document outlines five priorities, which the group has claimed will; “determine the risk in Brexit’s impact on patients and public health across Europe.

Central to the priorities is maintaining reciprocal healthcare arrangements between the EU and UK, to ensure that patients from both UK and EU patients will continue to have access to life-saving medicines through close cooperation on the regulation of medicines and medical technologies.

The document also highlights the need for the development of a strong coordination between the EU and UK on public health, including in pandemic preparation and disease prevention programmes, the establishment of a common framework for collaboration in research and information sharing between the EU and the UK, and automatic recognition of qualifications so that EU and UK health professionals can continue to access mutually beneficial training and education opportunities.

Speaking in response to the policy statement, Nicola Bedlington, Secretary General of the European Patients Forum said: “A disorderly Brexit has the potential to have a very negative impact on patient health across Europe. Negotiators from both the EU and the UK have a responsibility do everything they can to avoid this risk”.

Nathalie Moll, Director General of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) added: “The life sciences sector in the EU and UK are completely aligned in seeking future cooperation on the regulation and supply of medicines and medical technologies in the Brexit negotiations.

“We’ve been working since the day following the UK’s decision to leave the EU to share our expertise and views on the specific issues the healthcare sector may face on day one of Brexit with policy makers on both sides of the Channel.

“We urge negotiators on both sides to move to the second phase as quickly as possible and agree on an adequate transition period and future cooperation after March 2019”.