The UK’s medicine supply must remain undisrupted regardless the Brexit deal outcome, pharmacy representative bodies have urged.

Responding to the Prime Minister’s unsuccessful Brexit deal vote, the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) and the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) said that ensuring a continuous supply of medicines ‘must be a priority’ whatever Brexit deal is eventually reached between the UK and the EU.

It comes after Theresa May’s Brexit deal, which set out details around the UK’s departure from the EU in March, was lost by 432 votes to 202 yesterday (16 January) in Parliament.


Maintaining medicines supply


PSNC chief executive Simon Dukes said that maintaining the supply of medicines to patients and pharmacies ‘must be a priority whatever the eventual approach to Brexit’.

He added: ‘While we hope that Parliament will, in time, be able to reach consensus on the approach to Brexit, our focus will remain on contingency planning with DHSC to ensure that patients can continue to access the medicines they need, when they need them, and that the impact on community pharmacies is minimised.’

PSNC said that it has been ‘working closely’ with the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) to prepare for all Brexit scenarios.

Echoing Mr Dukes’ comments, the NPA’s head of corporate affairs Gareth Jones said: ‘Medicines prices, licensing of medicinal products, safety protocols and health sector workforce will all be impacted by the UK’s departure from the EU.

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


Give pharmacists more power


In December, the DHSC revealed that it is consulting on implementing a ‘strict protocol’ to allow community pharmacists to ‘provide an appropriate alternative, should there be a shortage of certain types of medicines’ in the case of a no-deal Brexit.

Mr Jones argued that this ‘sensible' measure will ‘however’ not be enough to guaranty patients can still access the medicines they need.

He said: ‘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.’