The Royal Pharmaceutical Society has called on the Government to take immediate action to prevent counterfeit medicines entering the supply chain after Brexit.

In a letter to health secretary Matt Hancock, the RPS said ‘robust plans’ were urgently needed to help authenticate the legitimacy of medicines moving between the EU and the UK.

Under current plans to leave the EU at the end of December, the UK will no longer benefit from the safeguards of the Falsified Medicines Directive (FMD), which could leave it vulnerable to ‘an influx of counterfeit medicines’, RPS said.

Sandra Gidley, RPS president, said it was ‘unacceptable’ that a plan had not been put in place, despite the UK being in the final months of the Brexit transition period.

She said: ‘In our letter, we have emphasised that establishing technical agreements with the EU is now more critical than ever in our fight against counterfeit medicines. We have made it clear that the ideal way forward is for continuity of the provisions of the FMD, enabling ongoing connectivity between the UK and Europe.

‘Not only will this help to provide assurances to patients about the safety of their medicines but it will also ensure the UK can continue to benefit from the significant investment made by the NHS, pharmacy organisations, and individual pharmacy owners in the infrastructure for FMD.’

The call comes ahead of the EU summit this Thursday (15 October) – the date by which prime minister Boris Johnson has said he wants a new Brexit deal agreed.

Last month, pharmacy bodies – including the RPS and PSNC – also called on the Government to make changes to medicines legislation before the end of the transition period to help alleviate the impact of stock shortages.

The bodies said the law should be amended to allow pharmacists to make minor changes to prescriptions when a medicine is out of stock, in order to reduce bureaucracy and speed up access to appropriate treatment for patients.