Actelion Joins Chorus of Drugmakers Concerned About `Brexit'

  • EU exit would hurt entire pharmaceutical industry, CEO says
  • European Medicines Agency would cease to be single regulator

A U.K. decision to leave the European Union would hurt the pharmaceutical industry over the long term, Actelion Ltd. Chief Executive Officer Jean-Paul Clozel said.

Britain “has always been a country very important for research, for drug discovery,” Clozel said by phone from Actelion’s headquarters in Allschwil near Basel, Switzerland, on Tuesday. “It would be, I think, very negative for the pharma industry.”

Actelion is joining GlaxoSmithKline Plc CEO Andrew Witty and AstraZeneca Plc CEO Pascal Soriot, who both see a potential exit as a worrying development for the industry. The EU’s London-based regulatory body, the European Medicines Agency, now provides one gateway for drug approvals for the 28-nation bloc.

“I would be more afraid of the long-term effect from the Brexit than the immediate effect,” Clozel said. “We have gained a lot in Europe from the unification of the rules, of the patent laws, of also the regulatory aspect.”

U.K. Prime Minister David Cameron has signaled a stay-or-leave referendum could be held as early as June 23 if a draft renegotiation settlement is endorsed by fellow EU leaders at a summit in Brussels this month.