Brexit Update

Since the UK voted to leave the European Union (EU), LabCorp and its drug development business unit, Covance, have been evaluating its potential impact across the pharmaceutical industry in Europe and the UK. We have been ready since the initial Brexit deadline of 29 March 2019 to provide our clients with continuing services, regardless of the ultimate results of the negotiations between the UK and the EU.

On December 24, 2020, the UK and the EU reached an agreement on their future relationship. The EU-UK Trade and Cooperation Agreement has since been approved by the UK Parliament and the European Council in expedited procedures. The Agreement came provisionally into effect on January 1 (following its signing on December 30, 2020) until February 28, awaiting the confirmatory vote of the European Parliament. The Agreement aims to minimize barriers to trade created as a result of the UK leaving the EU single market and to minimize disruption following the introduction of customs formalities on January 1.

Labcorp and Covance welcome that an agreement has been reached and will continue to adapt our plans as necessary in light of new developments going forward.

Our Priorities and Preperation

Going forward, our key priorities are:

  • Uninterrupted movement of time-sensitive clinical trial kits and biological samples and minimal disruption for other goods moving between the UK and the EU27, achieved by customs and regulatory facilitations.

  • Retaining EU27 nationals working in the UK and UK employees at EU27 facilities, and ongoing access to international talent.

  • Alignment of UK and EU law and/or mutual recognition, equivalence, or other cooperation agreements to enable continuing UK-EU collaboration on research and drug development.

  • Securing tax incentives to support future research and development in the UK.

  • Ongoing ability to rely on EU27-UK intra-company temporary transfers to cover peaks and flows of work.

Since June 2017, we have developed and deployed contingency plans, including full implementation readiness prior to the original March 2019 Brexit date. We have continued to refine these plans, and are well prepared regardless of the outcome of negotiations surrounding the future UK-EU trade agreement.

We have obtained Authorised Economic Operator (AEO) certification for our Harrogate (UK) and York (UK) sites to help reduce the risk of delays at the post-Brexit border (AEO status is an internationally recognized quality mark indicating secure international supply chains, and efficient and compliant customs controls and procedures).

We have worked closely with industry associations, including the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), the European Federation of the Pharmaceutical Industry and Associations (EFPIA) and the Association of Clinical Research Organizations (ACRO), as well as engaging in direct outreach, to advocate for the best possible Brexit outcome for our clients and business.  

LabCorp / Covance continue to closely track potential legislative or regulatory changes in the region and remain confident that we will be prepared for any UK regulatory scenario and UK-EU trade relationship. 


If you have any specific questions to your study please contact your study director/project manager