People across Wales could face reduced access to medicines and medical devices leading to poorer health outcomes in the wake of Brexit, according to a Public Health Wales report.

The Public Health Implications of Brexit in Wales: A Health Impact Assessment Approach, published this week, examines the potential short, medium and long-term health and well-being effects of Brexit on people living in Wales.

It identifies access to medication, devices and clinical trials as a ‘major probable negative impact’ in the short to medium term as a result of the UK leaving European regulatory bodies.

This will have a knock-on effect on health outcomes, including timely access to health and social care, new treatments and technologies, and ultimately morbidity and mortality, with vulnerable people and those on low incomes likely to be the worst affected, the report says.


Long-term manufacturing positives


However, it also highlighted that the UK pharmaceutical sector could benefit in the long-term from a boost to UK-based manufacturing.

Under current arrangements, medical devices such as syringes, bandages and low-tech consumables are supplied on a ‘just-in-time’ basis, and this could be affected by the UK’s departure from the EU, according to the report.

Uncertainty surrounding the UK’s ongoing membership of the European Medicines Agency after Brexit casts further doubt on the future of licensing and regulation of medicine and medical devices.


‘Checklist to navigate process’


Director of policy, research and international development for Public Health Wales, Professor Mark Bellis, said: ‘As the final decisions are made on our relationship with Europe, it is paramount that we consider how they will affect the health of our people, and especially the health of those who are vulnerable to ill health through their reliance of health care, low levels of income or employment in sectors at risk through the Brexit process.

‘This Health Impact Assessment is not a road map through Brexit, but a check list for those navigating the process to ensure that the health and well-being of the people of Wales is considered at every juncture.’