Novartis, world's top drugmaker, plays down Brexit threat
ZURICH, July 19 Switzerland's Novartis,
the world's biggest maker of prescription drugs, will continue
to invest in Britain, despite the country's decision to leave
the European Union, its chief executive said on Tuesday.Joe Jimenez also told reporters he expected the European
Medicines Agency (EMA), currently based in London, to continue
its work on approving new medicines in an "orderly" fashion,
even though it is likely to have to move to a new location."The UK is an important market for us. There are many
countries in Europe, namely Switzerland, which are not in the
EU, and we continue to invest in those countries as well as in
the EU," he said in a post-results call."We will continue to invest strongly in the UK despite the
decision to exit the EU as we see very large areas of unmet
medical need and the innovation Novartis brings can help
patients in the UK."
The sanguine comments from Jimenez, who is also president of
the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and
Associations trade body, contrast with concerns expressed by
some other pharmaceutical industry executives.The CEO of Spain's Almirall, for example, said
earlier this month the relocation of the EMA threatened to
disrupt the approval of new drugs and represented a medium and
The UK pharmaceuticals trade association has also warned
that having Britain outside the EU could undermine future
investment, research and jobs in the country.Depending on the exact EU exit terms, Britain may have to
develop its own domestic regulatory system, adding an extra
layer of regulation and bureaucracy.
The EMA, Europe's equivalent the U.S. Food and Drug
Administration, currently approves medicines for all European
Union countries from its headquarters in London's Canary Wharf
financial district. Other European cities are already vying to
be its new home.Drugmakers also face challenges and uncertainties across the
Atlantic, with the U.S. market - the biggest and most profitable
for the industry - facing increased pressure on prices.Jimenez said he was planning for a "more difficult" U.S.
pricing environment going forward."We all have to plan for new pricing models in the U.S that
could help us ensure sustainability of the system as the U.S.
population ages. We are planning for a environment where there
are not increases in price in the U.S.," he said.
(Writing by Ben Hirschler; Editing by Mark Potter)