Medicines will be protected in the event of no-deal Brexit, Matt Hancock says

Matt Hancock has stated that stockpiling medicines won’t be necessary after all, as the Department of Health and Social Care has a plan in place for the future of UK pharmaceuticals

After a great deal of concerned conjecture regarding the impact of Brexit on healthcare – particularly in the wake of the leaked NHS England e-mail story which broke earlier this week – secretary of health and social care, Matt Hancock, has confirmed in a letter that the DHSC has ‘robust’ plans in place and that panic-stockpiling of medicines will not be necessary.

The letter specifically offers clarity with regards to the pharmaceutical industry, the future regulation of which the UK government is taking a pragmatic approach to.

This is, however, only one aspect of concern for the future of the nation’s health service.

Mike Thompson, chief executive of the ABPI, said of Hancock’s letter:

“The pharmaceutical industry is doing everything in its power to minimise disruption of medicine supply in every possible Brexit outcome – including a ‘no deal’.

“By agreeing to recognise and use medicines and vaccines licensed and manufactured in the EU, the UK government has taken an important step to protect patients. We urge the EU commission to do the same.”

The BMA’s council chair, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, believes that Brexit will be negative for the UK public regardless of any promises made at this stage. He said:

“Today the government is asking clinicians to reassure the public, but it is clear to the BMA that Brexit will have a catastrophic impact for patients, the health workforce, services and the nation’s health.

“Many of the no-deal outcomes outlined in this paper would result in the UK becoming both less influential within the health sector and a less significant market.

“Despite concerns being raised before the vote, no one could have imagined the extent of the complications that Brexit would bring to both the UK and the rest of Europe. However, in light of what we know now, it is imperative that the public has a say on any proposed Brexit deal.”

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Niall Dickon, co-chair of the Brexit Health Alliance, added that the public now needs a firm and detailed strategy for the government to follow in order to assure them that their medicinal needs will be protected. He stated:

“What we need is a categorical assurance that patients will continue to get the medicines and treatment they need, no matter what happens in the negotiations. This guidance is a first step, but only a first step, towards that.

“The NHS will now want to see more comprehensive operational advice on issues such as the stockpiling of medicines and equipment, medical research and public health, in time for them to take robust action locally well before the UK leaves the EU.

“Of course the real prize must be no disruption in supply to or from the UK. It may be acceptable to argue about delays to some consumer products at the border, but it cannot be acceptable when patients lives are put at risk. We cannot afford to get this wrong.”

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