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Adam Smith Inst - Medical monoliths can be smashed after Brexit

New report reveals opportunity for UK to be a leading medical innovator after Brexit

Britain can become a world innovator in healthcare technology following Brexit, according to a new report from the Adam Smith Institute released yesterday (you can read the report in full here).

The report argues that Britain should streamline the approvals process for new medicines and health technologies, as well as allowing the use in Britain of medical products already approved by regulators in other countries with safe track records of medical regulation.

Brexit is an opportunity for Britain to overhaul and streamline its regulatory regime, giving it a unique chance to encourage more medical innovation, says the paper. Once dominated solely by multi-billion dollar companies, medical developments are increasingly coming from small start ups, which are often held back by slow and risk-averse regulators.

The UK’s Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) is in desperate need of reform as it struggles to adapt to new technological advances, warns the paper. Mark Lutter, the report’s author, suggests two strategies to boost the Britain’s regulatory regime. First, recognise decisions from the world’s best drug and medical device regulatory practices. Second, lower the cost of innovation here in Britain.

Under MHRA rules many new technological innovations, such as phone apps that magnify text for the short sighted, are currently counted as medical devices and subject to close oversight which deprives patients easy access to tools which would be able to improve their health or even save their lives.

As well as relaxing regulation at home, the UK should also look to use regulatory decisions made by partners in the EU and beyond. Drugs and medical devices approved by sensible regulators overseas would give Brits access to an increased number of safe and effective drugs, while at the same time cutting costs.

The world of medical innovation is rapidly changing and Brexit gives the UK the opportunity to become a leader in it. The UK can create a regulatory system that can attract the most innovative companies, says the report.

The MHRA should focus on becoming a partner to innovation, not a hindrance.Delaying lifesaving technology costs lives, the UK must seize this opportunity for regulatory reform for the health of its citizens.

Sam Bowman, Executive Director at the Adam Smith Institute, said:

“Britain has a chance to make itself a global hub for medical regulation after Brexit forces us to rethink the old ways of doing things. But we need to balance that innovation against the need for safety. This report’s solution to that need is ingenious: continue to require regulatory approval, but outsource some of that to the regulators of Japan, Germany, Canada and other safe, developed countries that also trial and approve medical products. Let’s hotwire the approvals process and unleash a new era of research and development in the field of making people live longer, happier lives. ”

Mark Lutter, author of the report and Lead Economist at NeWAY Capital, said

“The world is on the cusp of major innovations in personalized medicine, gene therapy, medical devices, and 3d printed organs. Unfortunately, regulatory agencies have slowed innovation. The MHRA, for example, classifies apps which magnify text for the visually impaired as medical devices. With Brexit, the time is right for regulatory change, to create the environment to cultivate the next generation of medical innovation.”

If you would like further information please do contact Matt Kilcoyne, Head of Communications, via email at | or via phone on 07584 778207.

The Adam Smith Institute is a free market, neoliberal think tank based in London. It advocates classically liberal public policies to create a richer, freer world.

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