The Government’s no-deal contingency plans would not be enough to prevent Brexit-related medicine shortages, the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) has warned.
Last week, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) announced plans to set up a £25m ‘express freight service’ to deliver medicines from across the Channel after 31 October, the date on which the UK is due to exit the EU.
The service will see urgently needed medicines brought to the UK within 24 to 72 hours and aims to strengthen the Government’s ‘already resilient’ Brexit contingency plans, according to the DHSC.
RPS president Sandra Gidley welcomed the Government’s efforts to ensure continued access to medicines but expressed concerns over its ‘analysis of the risks’ of exiting the EU without a deal.
She said: ‘A no-deal Brexit risks putting further strain on the supply chain and increasing pressure on hard-working staff. Despite best efforts from the Government, the NHS and others, contingency planning can only go so far to eliminate these risks.
‘The Government has previously maintained that leaving the EU with a deal is the best exit outcome and we would be concerned if this policy shifts towards leaving without an agreement or transition period.’
However, the RPS will continue to ‘engage constructively’ with the DHSC and NHS England over their no-deal preparations, Ms Gidley added.
More information needed
Pharmacists will need more support to deal with ‘difficult conversations’ with patients who are concerned about their medicines and Brexit-related shortages, Ms Gidley added.
She said: ‘If we’re moving towards a no-deal exit on 31 October, without a transition period, the public, NHS staff, and the science and research community will all be looking for more information from the Government about what this means.’