What would the impact of a no-deal Brexit have on the epilepsy research community in the UK?

We are all of us wondering what the repercussions of a no-deal Brexit would have on our lives but in the following summary, our CEO, Maxine Smeaton spells out a few of the possible effects of a no-deal on the epilepsy research community.

We at ERUK, along with other epilepsy charities are committed to maximising support for medical research in the UK and in particular support for neuroscience research that could directly improve the lives of people with epilepsy.

The impact of a no-deal Brexit would disproportionately be felt by the epilepsy research community as we rely on European collaborators for multi-centre studies on imaging and genetics and the smooth supply of medication is necessary for drug-trials.

Epilepsy research in the UK has a tradition of being enriched by visiting academics, many of whom later make the UK their home – prejudicing this will lead to a brain drain that may set back epilepsy research in the UK for a generation. More importantly the consequences of an intermittent supply of anti-epileptic drugs for people in the UK would be potentially life-threatening.

Currently the UK has the greatest access to anti-epilepsy drugs of any European country, a reputation that could be undermined if the MHRA becomes a stand-alone regulator. The UK market would be too small for some companies to want to invest in registering their trials and licensing their medication here. We may miss out on the ability to use and study any new ‘block buster’ therapy, particularly for the rare epilepsies.

Finally epilepsy prevalence in the UK is strongly correlated with deprivation, and premature epilepsy-associated deaths are disproportionately seen in deprived areas. Any political choice that could widen this inequality in the UK may exacerbate this.

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