Lack of access to European drug trials post-Brexit would be disaster, MSPs told

Failure to secure continued access to Europe-wide trials of new treatments and medicines after Brexit would be a "disaster", the Health Secretary has warned.

Shona Robison told Holyrood's Health Committee that the use of the EU's clinical trials portal was of "crucial importance".

Her comments follow the committee's evidence from Dame Anna Dominiczak, Regius Professor of Medicine at Glasgow University, who said any changes which would lead to Scottish or UK patients being excluded from clinical trials would be "almost criminal".

Ms Robison said: "The UK Government's stated commitment is to continue close working and collaboration with the EU.

"I think anything short of having access to the EU clinical trials portal will be a disaster. We absolutely need to secure that.

"You're not going to get much disagreement, I suspect, from the Department of Health or potentially Jeremy Hunt himself, but he's not one of the key Brexit negotiators, and therefore we need to make sure this issue is up there."

Access to trials was one of a number of concerns raised by Ms Robison as the committee continues its inquiry on the impact of leaving the EU on health in Scotland.

There are also risks to the recruitment and retention of healthcare professionals, the rights of Scottish patients to receive treatment in the EU and access for Scotland to pan-European research and medicines as well as trials, Ms Robison said.