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Brexit: children could be denied clinical trials for cancer treatments

Brexit: children could be denied clinical trials for cancer treatments

Children could be excluded from lifesaving clinical trials for cancer treatment when the UK leaves the EU, the Brexit Health Alliance has revealed.
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Children could be excluded from lifesaving clinical trials for cancer treatment when the UK leaves the EU, the Brexit Health Alliance has revealed.

A report from the Brexit Health Alliance warns that if the UK and EU can’t reach the ‘right deal’, children diagnosed with recurring neuroblastoma – a rare type of cancer – might not access clinical trials.

Brexit Health Alliance co-chair Niall Dickson saidthat ‘if patients are to continue to benefit from early access to new and better treatments, health technologies and cutting-edge medicines, we have to be able to take part in multinational research programmes and clinical trials’.

He continued: ‘We have achieved so much through co-operation with European partners and this must continue.

‘What patients need is an agreement which enables maximum co-operation in research and innovation between the EU and the UK and maximum alignment with the rules regulating medicines and medical devices across Europe.’

‘Patients will suffer’

The Alliance argued that ‘patients will suffer unless there is a new partnership on science and research between the EU and the UK after Brexit.’

Neuroblastoma cancer affects around 100 children each year in the UK, with more than half of aggressive forms of the cancer recurring, according to NHS England.

The report said that ‘as the number of patients with rarer conditions in each country is low, it is only possible to recruit enough patients for clinical trials by carrying out trials across countries’.

It added: ‘Scientific breakthroughs are not developed in isolation, as mobility is crucial to the highest standards of performance.

‘A situation where UK trials are no longer able to recruit European patients would lessen the benefits for patients across the whole of Europe, as well as risk damaging UK and European science.’

European funding

UK researchers and innovators received around 15% of the biggest EU research and innovation programme Horizon 2020, which has nearly €80bn (£70bn) of funding available from 2014 to 2020.

‘The absence of a deal on the UK’s future involvement in research programmes, although it would sometimes still be possible to collaborate in projects, means that UK organisations cannot benefit from EU funding, which would need to be sought from other sources,’ the report said.

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