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Brexit: Pharmacies will not have to verify prescription medicine packs from next year

By Isabel Shaw

17 Nov 2020

Community pharmacy teams in England, Scotland and Wales will no longer be required by law to verify and decommission unique identifiers on prescription medicine packs after the Brexit transition period ends on 31 December.

This comes as the three devolved nations are due to be disconnected from the EU Falsified Medicines Directive (FMD) – the pan-European set of anti-counterfeiting measures designed to stop the spread of fake medicines across Europe.

The UK FMD working group confirmed in a statement yesterday (16 November) that FMD will cease to apply in Great Britain after the end of the transition period.

The statement said pharmacies will be automatically disconnected from the UK National Medicines Verification System, but should make sure any integrated pharmacy systems are not actively connecting or seeking a response from the end of 2020.

Pharmacies should also disconnect or turn-off any stand-alone FMD systems on 31 December.

The group explained that pharmacies will still be able to use batch, expiry or product details from medicine packs 2D barcodes while the packs still circulate.

Pack serial numbers, however, will no longer have any function – although these packs remain valid and can be dispensed if they are still in date.

Northern Ireland

FMD will still apply in Northern Ireland, for at least four years while the NI protocol is under review, the Working Body said.

Pharmacies in NI will need to continue to verify and decommission any packs with the FMD safety features, in line with the requirements of relevant EU and UK medicines legislation.

The Medicines and Medical Device Bill – which is currently progressing through Parliament – will give the UK Government the power to create its own regulations in order to prevent falsified medicines from entering the supply chain, following the decommissioning of the FMD.

From 9 February 2019, pharmacists in the UK had to scan the unique bar code on every pack of medicine before they were dispensed. It was hoped that these measures would ensure that fake medicines did not make it into the supply chain.

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