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EXCLUSIVE: BREXIT will help save lives by allowing new wonder drugs to be approved more quickly.

PUBLISHED: 22:00, Sun, Oct 4, 2020 | UPDATED: 22:02, Sun, Oct 4, 2020

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Health Secretary Matt Hancock revealed Britain will join forces with the best medical regulators in the world to speed up medicine licensing. The international team will focus on authorising innovative cancer treatments swiftly and safely. Britain will be free of European Union medical red tape from January 1.


Mr Hancock said: “This means that one of the benefits of Brexit will be faster access to life-saving treatments on the NHS.”

Britain is currently bound by European Medicines Agency (EMA) rules but stops being a member of the organisation when Brexit transition arrangements end in December.

The government has informally joined Project Orbis, set up to allow medical regulators to work together to fasttrack treatments, and will officially become a member from January 1.

It means the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) will work with its counterparts in the United States, Canada, Australia, Singapore and Switzerland on assessing new treatments.

Mr Hancock said the government is determined not to “lose sight” of the benefits of Brexit.

Brexit boost: Leaving EU will boost health care in Britain through new drugsBrexit boost: Leaving EU will boost health care in Britain through new drugs (Image: Getty/Flickr)

“As a member of the EMA we were constrained to operate within the European rules which are slower,” he said.

“The MHRA was our regulator within the European system and was always at the cutting-edge of the European system and now we’ll work with similar regulators around the world.”

Pharmaceutical companies can submit pioneering treatments through Project Orbis to be reviewed by several countries at the same time, speeding up the process.

But the MHRA will still have independence to make the final authorisation decision for the UK.

“We are teaming up with the fastest regulators in the world to get safe licences as fast as the science allows,” Mr Hancock said.

“You have all the safety standards but you run different trials in parallel rather than one after the other and that means people can get life-saving treatments faster.

As a member of the EMA we were constrained to operate within the European rules which are slower

Matt Hancock

“Teaming up with Project Orbis means that we will be able to share the understanding between some of the world’s best medical regulators.

“In the first instance the focus of Project Orbis will be on life-saving cutting-edge cancer drugs.

“I feel incredibly proud that Britain’s amazing medical science and our world leading regulator are going to be able to save lives by doing what is right for Britain and right by the science in the most dynamic group of medical regulators in the world.”

Since Project Orbis was set up in May 2019 lifesaving treatments have already been approved for breast, lung, liver and endometrial cancer as well as chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

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