Search launched for new head of drugs regulator

New pharmaceutical regulator chief must oversee industry's post-Brexit transition 


By David Blackman

25 Mar 2019

The hunt is on for a new chief executive of the government’s pharmaceuticals watchdog to help steer the industry through the aftermath of Brexit.

The £150,000-a-year role is set to open up after Ian Hudson announced his plans to step down as chief executive of the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency last November.

The MHRA regulates all medicines, medical devices and blood components for transfusion in the UK. An executive agency of the Department of Health and Social Care, it employs more than 1,200 staff across three sites in London, York and South Mimms, Hertfordshire.


The post has been advertised as a full-time, permanent post with a salary of up to £150,000.

The advert states that the new chief executive will “need to adapt rapidly to maintain the UK’s unique position within the global pharmaceuticals industry” after the UK leaves the EU.

“The MHRA must operate efficiently in this evolving context, carry the confidence of the public, government and industry, and remain as the most reputable global force in medicines and devices regulation,” it says.

The pharmaceuticals industry is expected to face disruption in the event of a no-deal Brexit, as nearly a billion packs of medicine are traded between the UK and the rest of the EU every year, according to the ABPI, the industry’s trade body.

Health minister Stephen Hammond warned last month said that delays in cross-channel traffic could disrupt supplies of medicines to the UK for at least six months. Industry has been stockpiling some medicines to ensure continuity of supplies.

According to the advert, the MHRA is “recognised globally as an authority in its field” and plays a “critical role” in helping to ensure that patients have access “as swiftly as possible to new and innovative medicines”.

Hudson said that he was planning to step down in the autumn of this year so to allow time for an orderly handover once an appointment had been made.

The physician, who was licensing director at the agency before taking on the top role in September 2013, said he was resigning for a combination of “personal and professional reasons” to develop a portfolio career.

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