A front cover from the Daily Express featuring comments from health secretary Matt Hancock suggesting Brexit can “save lives” has been criticised.
Under the headline “BREXIT GIVES UK FREEDOM TO FAST-TRACK WONDER DRUGS”, the newspaper reports that Hancock had insisted that Brexit will help save lives by allowing new drugs to be approved faster.
The health secretary claimed that Britain “will join forces with the best regulators in the world to speed up the licensing of medicines”.
This is rubbish (as you’d expect from Express). EU gets new drugs 6 months before Canada /Switzerland due to the size of market. UK pharma warned Govt (since 2016) not to split off UK market or they’ll deprioritise UK & drugs will be slower in UK. PS there are no “wonder drugs”. pic.twitter.com/mE3cVm8eBx
— Dr Mike Galsworthy (@mikegalsworthy) October 4, 2020
But the report has left people in “despair”, while others branded it “North Korean propaganda”.
One said: “It’s called regulatory for a reason and fasttrack means less scrutiny and testing! I despair! Nothing wrong with speeding up a process based on science and technology but don’t blame the EU!”
Dr Paul Hewson wrote: “I wonder who benefits from expensive and inadequately tested drugs. Especially as we know Covid outcomes are worse in some areas that need public health interventions….”
Thomas Liebers noted: “The typical priority list of an innovative pharmaceutical or biotech company is to submit for authorisation in the US and EU first. Depending on patient population, followed by Japan. Outside the EU, UK is a small third party way down the priority list.”
Neil Evans was more scathing of Hancock’s comments. He tweeted: “Hancock barely gets by in the shitshow that is this government. How would he manage with the world’s best?”
Neil Fawcett added: “Shameless propaganda. Does anyone believe this? Are we living in the Soviet Union now?”
Jon Worth posted: “At best the UK can hope for little change. At worst it’ll be *slower* to get drugs in the UK as firms will seek approval in a 440million market (the EU) rather than a 65million one (the UK).”
Rob Stripe said: “Who to believe? Industry & medical professionals or the Daily Express? Wow, that’s a difficult one!”
But Hancock is reported to have told his cabinet colleagues in 2018 that he “could not guarantee that people would not die” after Brexit if there was a no-deal scenario.
At the time the health secretary refused to confirm or deny his statement – but said the prospect of no deal was ‘not pretty’ for healthcare.
He said: “In the event of no deal, we’ve got to ensure that there is the unhindered flow of medicines to people and we’re putting in place what is needed to do that.
“Now if everybody does the things that they needed to do, including us in government but also the pharmaceutical industry, then I’m confident that we can deliver that.
“But there’s a lot of work that needs to happen to ensure that we have that unhindered supply of medicine.
“This is in the event of no deal. We’ve got a deal.”