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BMA briefing: medical research

Collaboration on medical research has bought wide-ranging benefits as part of the UK’s membership of the EU. Supporting coordinated research and development activities between European countries, as well as an aligned approach to clinical trials has meant that patients in the UK and across Europe have accessed new and innovative medicines faster.

The UK’s decision to leave the EU has the potential to limit the benefits of this collaborative approach and presents a substantial risk to the continued success of European medical research, and to the successful development of the European Research Area. It is vital that the UK Government’s negotiations with the EU prioritise the ability for the UK and EU to work closely across these areas.


Key points

While the UK’s decision to leave the EU does not prevent collaboration, it has the potential to significantly limit the ability of researchers and institutions to work together because:

  • the loss of access to EU health-related research funding programmes undermines the development of new or improved medicines and medical devices in the UK; damages the UK’s scientific reputation and appeal for researchers; limits the UK’s ability to translate research into medicines and medical devices into products to bring to the market; and reduces training and career opportunities for research; and
  • it would increase the burden of conducting multi-centre clinical trials and create barriers to working collaboratively and sharing expertise, facilities and datasets, ultimately delaying the development of and access to new medicines and devices across Europe.
  • To minimise these potential impacts, the UK should negotiate a formal agreement to maintain access to EU funding programmes, ensure consistency and close aligment with clinical trials regulations in the EU, and agree how the MHRA (Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency) participates in pan-European clinical trials.


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Brexit briefing: Medical research

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For further information on this briefing, please contact Susan Bahl, Brexit lead:


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