A no-deal Brexit could be fatal for patients who need life-saving medicines, the pharmacy negotiator has warned.
In its response to a Government inquiry on the impact of a no-deal Brexit on the healthcare sector, the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) said that shortages of vital medicines such as insulin could have ‘life-threatening consequences’ for patients.
‘Life threatening consequences’
PSNC told Government’s body the Health and Social Care Committee that the key concern for pharmacy is the potential impact on the availability of medicines in a no-deal Brexit.
‘Many prescription medicines, even those supplied through primary care, are vital, life-saving medicines for patients, such as the regular provision of insulin for people with diabetes,’ PSNC wrote.
‘Any delays to the provision of these medicines could have life-threatening consequences.’
The charity Diabetes UK estimated that more than on million people in the UK rely on insulin. At the moment, only three main pharmaceutical manufacturers – Lilly, Sanofi and Novo Nordisk – produce insulin, with their production sites located outside the UK.
Extra pressures on NHS services
PSNC also argued that medicine shortages could result in higher demand for GP appointments or hospitalisation, as many patients rely on over the counter (OTC) medicines to treat conditions such as allergies, adding extra pressure on NHS services.
In August, health and social care secretary Matt Hancock said that pharmaceutical companies had been asked to hold an additional six-week supply of medicines if the UK fails to reach a Brexit deal by the 29 March deadline.
Speaking before the Health and Social Care Committee last week (23 October), Mr Hancock suggested that short-life shelf medicines such as isotopes could enter the UK via air transportation.
He said: ‘We will have to because you cannot get them in quickly enough if there are blockages at the border. [Likewise], there is work ongoing on the alternative ways of ensuring that there are supply chains, even in the event of a continued blockage.’