UK medicines agency head to step down in 2019, as Brexit looms

LONDON (Reuters) - The head of Britain’s medicines watchdog is to step down in September 2019, handing over the reins to a yet to be appointed successor at a time of heightened regulatory concerns due to Brexit.

“I feel the time is right for a new person to guide the agency and our work through its next phase, following the UK’s departure from the European Union next year,” Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) CEO Ian Hudson said on Tuesday.

The MHRA is now preparing for the possibility of Britain leaving the European Union without a deal in March 2019, in which case it would have to operate as a stand-alone drugs and medical devices regulator.

Currently, most oversight of medicines, including new drug approvals, is handled by the European Medicines Agency.

Medicine supplies is an area of particular concern among companies and patients, given uncertainty over how supply chains and regulatory oversight will function in future.

The MHRA said recruitment for Hudson’s successor would begin early in 2019.

Reporting by Ben Hirschler, Editing by Louise Heavens