Ask the expert: How will Brexit affect Parkinson’s drugs and research?
Author: Simge Eva DoganPublished: 30 January 2020
Prep: Cook: Serves:
The UK is due to
formally leave the European Union this week. In the second in our series where
we ask experts about the biggest issues facing the Parkinson’s community, Dr
Kieran Breen of the European Medicines Agency Committee for Advanced Therapies gives
his views on the likely impact of Brexit – from the availability of Parkinson’s
medication to international research collaboration
First of all, could you explain to our readers how
Brexit might affect people with Parkinson’s? Will there be an impact on the
supply of medications?
It’s very difficult to look into the future, but yes, the
availability of the therapies and drugs for people with Parkinson’s may be
impacted. We don’t know how things are going to develop in the transition period
over the next 11 months, but it could be that when drugs are coming through
customs they are delayed at the point of entry to the country.
I would imagine that because pharmaceuticals are so
important to the lives of people in the UK with Parkinson’s and every other
condition, that the manufacturing standards are going to stay the same here as
with the rest of Europe.
What might happen to Parkinson’s drugs manufacturing in
At the moment, within Europe, the quality of drug
manufacture is the same throughout the 28 countries. The manufacturing is
usually assessed at a local level, so in the UK that would be the Medicines and
Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), which is responsible for drug
If the MHRA assess and approve a drug at a manufacturing
site, it can go anywhere to 28 countries. However, come Brexit, what will
happen is that will no longer be the case. Any drugs manufactured in the UK
cannot automatically be sent to the 27 countries and vice versa.
Theoretically what would happen in the case of a hard Brexit is somebody from the UK will have to go to wherever the drug is manufactured and assess the quality of the manufacturing process. It’s unlikely that this will happen, but it’s a possibility.
Will Brexit impact Parkinson’s drug trials?
Once the UK is no longer in the EU, it will be less likely
that drug trials will be carried out in the UK, because the agreed standards may
be different. Also, if companies want to license a new drug, will they submit
the marketing authorisation application to the European Medicines Agency (EMA),
which is around 600 million people, or submit it to the UK, which is 60 million
people? Well, it’s a no brainer that companies are more likely to submit to the
EU funding supports a substantial amount of medical research in the UK. What effect do you think that Brexit will have for the future of Parkinson’s research and innovation in the UK?
There are two sources of funding
in the UK for Parkinson’s research – charity funding and government funding.
With government funding you can never tell what’s going to come up by the next
budget, but UK charities will continue to fund research. I don’t think Brexit
will have a significant impact on that.
The main area where there is
going to be a problem is European research funding. The European Commission
I don’t know off-hand how much of that goes to Parkinson’s.
Once Brexit happens, UK
researchers will no longer have access to EU funding, so it will choke off the
finance but it will also provide a barrier to international interaction. Interacting
with other people and exchanging ideas is a really important part of research. International
collaboration facilitates the development of new therapies, treatments,
diagnostic models and really increases the understanding of Parkinson’s.
What’s your advice for people in the Parkinson’s
community wondering how best to prepare for these changes?
With Brexit, who knows what’s going to happen? Patient organisations and patients’ collaborators need to
keep a very close eye on what’s happening from a Brexit perspective and make
sure they are talking to the right people so that their voices are heard.
Patients and healthcare professionals need to work with organisations to make sure that the agenda is moved forward – and make sure that MPs are aware of the implications of Brexit from a patient’s perspective. It’s really important that the topic of drug availability remains on the agenda.
Need to know: Dr Kieran Breen is a UK-based pharmacologist. He worked at Parkinson’s UK for nine years as Director of Research & Innovation. He was nominated by the EPDA to join the European Medicines Agency Committee for Advanced Therapies in 2013 – a group which deals with the next generation of therapies.
At a glance: Parkinson’s and Brexit
Brexit may affect the availability of Parkinson’s therapies and drugs in the UK.
It will be less likely that drug trials are carried out in the UK after Brexit.
After Brexit, UK researchers will no longer have access to EU funding which may affect both the financing of new studies and international collaboration.
Parkinson’s organisations need to make sure that patient voices are heard during the transition and lobby the government to ensure that drug availability remains on the agenda.
How this graphic novelist drew through his “intolerable Parkinson’s pain”
Cartoonist opens up about his new book - 10 years into diagnosis
1 day ago
Has Covid-19 impacted access to Parkinson’s medication?
New research has found that the coronavirus pandemic has affected access to medication for people living with Parkinson’s disease. The sub-study used information from a survey conducted by the International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society. The results from 346 participants showed that 22.8% of high-income and 88.9% of low-income countries’ respondents agreed that the coronavirus crisis had impacted people’s access to Parkinson’s medication. Some respondents reported increased disability, increased hospitalisation and increased mortality as factors. The majority of those who completed the survey were doctors. The researchers concluded: “Our results offer preliminary data that the Covid-19 pandemic has affected Parkinson’s disease patients’ access to regular medication. “Covid-19 has diverted resources away from chronic conditions towards the fight against Covid-19 in many countries. Resource-poor countries seem to be disproportionately affected compared to their affluent counterparts.”
Brazilian dance could improve mobility in people with Parkinson’s, study finds
Researchers at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul in Brazil compared participants in a 12-week programme, inspired by samba and forró dances, with those in a walking exercise programme to measure improvement in their functional mobility and gait. The 18 participants had an average age of 68.6 and had all been diagnosed with Parkinson’s over a year ago. The results, published in journal BMC Neurology, found that both groups showed significant improvements in mobility and balance tests. Participants in the dance group showed increases in stride frequency at a self-chosen test speed and a reduced swing time (the amount of time the foot is off the floor) at a fast speed. The results indicated that dance was as “effective as walking in improving functional mobility”. The researchers wrote: “It is essential to find different activities that can offer benefits to individuals… so that they can engage in the…
#WomenAndParkinsons shortlisted for ‘Charity Content Campaign of the Year’
Parkinson’s Life’s #WomenAndParkinsons campaign – a series highlighting the unique experiences of the estimated three million women worldwide who live with the condition – has been shortlisted in the UK Content Awards 2020 in the ‘Not-for-Profit / Charity Content Campaign of the Year’ category. Since its launch in 2019 the #WomenAndParkinsons campaign has covered topics including: the impact of menstruation on medication; the difficulties surrounding pregnancy, childbirth and breastfeeding with Parkinson’s; the interaction between menopause, sex and Parkinson’s; how coronavirus is impacting the lives of women with the condition; and what’s behind the lack of focus on gender. Parkinson’s Life editor Simge Eva Dogan, said: “Our campaign has centered on voices that were previously unheard and started much-needed discussions about the specific needs and experiences of women who are living with Parkinson’s. Being recognised by this award will help us to build on the success of the campaign so far and continue…