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Brexit already affecting some drug supplies

Wednesday 19th December 2018
Evidence appears to be emerging that some drug supplies are running short even before Brexit.
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It remains to be seen whether the UK will leave the EU with a deal in place in March, but it appears the pharmaceutical industry is already finding it harder to obtain certain medicines.

Simon Dukes, chief executive of the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC), told the BBC Radio Five Wake up to Money programme that the perceived risk of the UK leaving without a deal is having an impact now on the supply and price of some generic drugs.

He explained that there are multiple reasons for supply shortages of any particular drug, adding that "concerns around a no-deal Brexit are likely to exacerbate those ongoing issues".

Mr Dukes made reference to recent price rises in a letter written to the House of Commons Health Select Committee. In it, he said: "The surge may be due to a combination of factors including Brexit planning and contingency."

The NHS and pharmaceutical companies have already taken steps to secure six weeks worth of supplies as a contingency, but while individuals are not urged to undertake stockpiling themselves - least of all of generic drugs made by more than one manufacturer - the PSNC believes that this is unofficially taking place in the supply chain, leading to the shortages and consequent price rises. 

The British Generic Manufacturers Association has denied that significant price inflation is taking place, claiming it is working through the same channels as the PSNC to make sure supplies are maintained after Brexit. 
A spokesperson for the body said: "If all in the supply chain are following the government's advice and not hoarding supplies of medicines, this should have no impact on current prices."

In October, Martin Sawer of the Healthcare Distributors Association told the House of Commons' Health and Social Care Committee that the public may be forced to stockpile drugs themselves.

He also warned that the government may be forced to give emergency powers to pharmacists to swap one drug for another based on availability, without first having to seek the agreement of GPs.

Written by James Puckle

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