Brexit’s impact on medicine supplies

What impact is Brexit having on the supply of medicines in England?

The BBC has reported on the impact of Brexit on medicines in the UK, with rising prices and shortages in supplies proving to be a problem for some GPs and pharmacists.

According to the BBC Radio 5 Live Wake up to Money programme, Brexit is already affecting supply and cost of some key generic drugs.

Generic drugs are what are used once patents for brand name drugs expire. While branded drugs have a capped cost for the NHS, generic medicines are charged an ever-fluctuating rate.

This can sometimes leave pharmacists out of pocket and cash flow within primary care services is likely to come under pressure if generic drugs costs aren’t paid back by the NHS in a timely manner.

It was reported earlier in the year that medicines were being stockpiled. The government announced that a certain amount – around six weeks’ worth – of both branded and generic drugs would be held in case of a no-deal Brexit.

While hospitals and practices have been told not to stockpile for themselves, the PSNC suspects that unofficial stockpiling is happening anyway.

The Department of Health and Social Care told the BBC: “Our number one priority is to ensure the continued supply of medicines and we work closely with industry and partners in the health system to help prevent disruption.

“The department has well-established processes to manage and mitigate the small number of supply problems that may arise at any one time due to manufacturing or distribution issues.”

The British Generic Manufacturers Association denied there had been price surge.

It added: “We are working with the government, in the same forums as the PSNC, to ensure that patients can continue to receive their medicines in the case of a no-deal Brexit.

“If all in the supply chain are following the government’s advice and not hoarding supplies of medicines, this should have no impact on current prices.”

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The government continues to promise that there are plans in place for the health service in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

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