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Brexit and its effect on Pharmacovigilance in the EU - a recruiter's perspective

Author: Matthew Jenner
Author: Matthew Jenner
Posted: 29/09/2019

Our own Matthew Jenner, Pharmacovigilance Staffing Specialist, shares his insights on how Brexit will impact the EU and UK pharmacovigilance job market.

The term ‘Brexit’ has been used so much in the past two years, it’s almost become a cliché. With Brexit deals and no deals dominating the news and few definitive decisions, it would be fair to say that, it’s not a term that brings about much positivity, particularly for the UK and EU job market.

That said, as a recruiter focusing specifically within the area of Pharmacovigilance (PV), I have quite a different view on the whole matter. Not only because I can see the abundance of PV career opportunities that will result from it in mainland Europe, but also the fact that it will change the shape of what we know as ‘Drug Safety’ in the UK if the UK leaves both the EU and EEA (European Economic Area)

So, what effect will Brexit have on PV jobs for both the UK and the EU?

With the lack of decisive action coming from those orchestrating the follow-up of Article 50, it’s difficult to predict the future of the pharmaceutical industry post-Brexit. Although the UK will be leaving the European Union, it’s relationship with the EEA is still not confirmed and there are various issues that are still to be negotiated, including how the UK and EU pharmacovigilance will operate.

In terms of PV, currently, the only change that has been announced from the EMA is that the EU Qualified Person Responsible for Pharmacovigilance (QPPV) will be required to be based in the Union (EEA). Despite some murmurs of optimism, it is unlikely that UK-based EU-QPPVs will be able to continue to operate in the UK following Brexit.

It was confirmed by the EMA this June via a Q&A report that EU-QPPVs and the Pharmacovigilance System Master File (PSMF) will legally have to reside in the Union (EEA). This means that, regardless of whether the UK continues to operate under the EMA’s regulations or not, to remain compliant with EU drug safety, the EU-QPPV and PSMF will not be able to operate in the UK if the UK leaves.

This is not the only potential upset in PV due to Brexit as it is being widely debated whether Deputy QPPVs will also need to be based in the Union (EEA), as well as whether the deputies will operate as Local Person for Pharmacovigilance (LPPV) or a Local Responsible Person. This will certainly cause disruptions and both pharmaceutical companies and qualified workers are stuck in limbo while these decisions are slowly being finalised.

With approximately 1,300 EU-QPPVs based in the UK who, under this current legislation, will have to be relocated to or replaced in the Union (EEA) by law, there is understandably a great deal of concern regarding these decisions. As senior lead for the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry’s (ABPI), Virginia Acha commented back in 2017: “Moving house is the fourth most stressful thing in your life! How are we going to make sure that we don’t have a major slowdown in procedures?”

Whether this means the entirety of Drug Safety jobs are moved with the QPPVs and PSMFs to the Unions (EEA) remains to be seen. These grey areas have caused a great deal of unease amongst pharmaceutical companies and workers alike, especially with high costs and job security at risk.

So, what does this mean for EU and UK PV job opportunities?

From my perspective, it would be illogical to move all PV out of the UK: there has been a great deal of investment in the PV market in the UK, as well as a large talent pool of PV professionals. Moving entire PV departments to the Unions (EEA) purely because the QPPV and PSMF is operating there, is extremely unlikely with the costs and sacrifices involved.

Moreover, though there is a huge amount of talent in Europe for PV professionals, this is a niche area and there is not currently enough to backfill the deficit that would be left from the UK-based PV talent pool. Various questions remain for UK based workers that wouldn’t want to relocate.

If you are concerned about UK PV jobs and how Brexit will impact them, get in touch with the career experts and we can discuss the market and opportunities with you.

One question I’ve been asked a lot is if there will be opportunities in the EU that weren’t there before due to Brexit? In short – Absolutely.

As recruiters, we are already seeing more demand from leading pharmaceutical companies for European based PV professionals – from Case Processors to Safety Physicians, from Drug Safety Scientists to PVQA Managers; there’s an abundance of new opportunities being created (which you can take a look at here). UK PV professionals will have new exciting offers to work abroad as more permanent and contractor opportunities open.

We’re seeing global pharma companies with strategies to move large sections of their PV group to offices in Europe due to Brexit. We’re also seeing global pharmaceuticals who are looking to move their QPPV out of the UK, but keeping their wider PV team based in the UK. The key takeaway is that despite the uncertainty regarding the role of QPPVs, the demand for pharmacovigilance jobs and talent is still high and there are opportunities for all qualified QPPVs, regardless of their location.

What is certain is that, until told otherwise, it is business as usual for both UK PV and EU PV workers. The pharmacovigilance industry is anticipating a shake up, but as many of you who have worked in this vital area of the industry, this is nothing new and it will settle…eventually.

At least, that’s what I think based on the what I’ve seen working closely with top talent and pharmaceuticals across the UK and Europe. What are your expectations on how Brexit will impact drug safety and pharmacovigilance? What’s been your experience with the PV job market since Brexit was announced?

For more information on the pharmacovigilance job market and to see the latest PV job opportunities across the UK and EU, check out the latest jobs, exclusive to Hobson Prior here.

This blog includes views and opinions of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Hobson Prior.

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