NPA position on Brexit

16 Jan 2019

Medicines prices, licensing of medicinal products, international safety protocols and health sector workforce will all be impacted by the UK’s departure from the EU.

Maintaining a safe and effective medicines supply service continues to be our primary focus.

To this end, we continue to be in close contact with Government and regulators about preparations for Brexit.

Major disruption to medicines supplies is something to be avoided at all costs, because of the worrying implications both for pharmacists and patients.

Timely supply of medicines is important to patient well-being.  With this in mind, it is important that there continues to be effective movement of medicines and medical devices across borders with the European Union.

The new legislation allowing pharmacists to substitute medicines that are in short supply with suitable alternatives is something we and other pharmacy bodies lobbied for and is a sensible contingency. Pharmacists will be able to take action to help patients get their medicines in a timely fashion, without the need for referral back to a GP.

However, more needs to be done.  Pharmacies should be able to share medicines with each another if one or more pharmacies run short of a particular line. This flexibility was available to pharmacies until a few years ago and it should now be reintroduced.

Brexit is bringing to a head a number of issues that should have been grappled with years ago. Medicines shortages have been a growing problem for months, so while Brexit appears to be exacerbating the situation, it is not the root cause.  By now it’s plain that there are structural faults in the medicines supply chain that too often leave patients waiting and pharmacists taking the rap for a situation beyond their control.

Whatever the Brexit scenario that finally emerges, pharmacists will put the needs of patients first, as they always do.