The Northern Ireland Protocol continues to create tension and confusion. This time issues have arisen over the availability of a new cancer treatment using the drug Tagarisso in the province, which has been approved by the UK’s MHRA for use in England, Scotland, Wales but not Northern Ireland.
This disparity has occurred because the drug is not currently approved for this use in the EU. Like the EMA’s slower approval of the AstraZeneca vaccine last year, this more rapid approval testifies to the benefits which a nimbler Britain can reap free from the ponderous processes of Brussels.
When this story broke in The Times and the Northern Irish paper The Newsletter, the European Commission hit back, claiming that the MHRA could have authorised the new treatment on ‘compassionate grounds.’ However, as The Newsletter pointed out, such grounds are an emergency measure, and could be challenged by Brussels. Moreover, the MHRA remains doubtful that it could have approved the new use, despite what the Commission has claimed. The incident in sum, demonstrates the confusion, inefficiency and worry to which the NIP has exposed doctors and patients in Northern Ireland.