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HDA UK Media and Political Bulletin – 2 August 2021

Media Summary

NI patients ‘must not go to the back of the queue’ over protocol
Belfast Telegraph, John Breslin, 2 August 2021

The Belfast Telegraph reports on statements by the Director of Policy for NHS Confederation, Dr Layla McCay, regarding the supply of medicines to Northern Ireland under the Northern Ireland Protocol.

Dr McCay strongly condemned the lack of progress from negotiations between the UK and EU, warning that patients should not become “collateral damage” as a result of “political haggling”.

This statement comes after the UK Government suggested to remove medicines supply from the Northern Ireland Protocol in last week’s Command Paper. The EU has stated that the Protocol is not up for negotiation, but that “creative solutions” are sought for its implementation.

“Pharmaceutical companies are doing everything in their power to prepare for operating according to the new rules after the end of this year, but they are running out of time to make substantive changes to supply chains if needed,” said Dr McCay.

“The majority of patients will still be able to obtain the medication they need. But it is likely there will be some who will find… suppliers… no longer prepared to import small quantities of medicines for specific conditions.”

 

 Parliamentary Coverage

 

There was no parliamentary coverage today.

 

Full Coverage

NI patients ‘must not go to the back of the queue’ over protocol
Belfast Telegraph, John Breslin, 2 August 2021 

Patients in Northern Ireland must not become “collateral damage” in the political haggling between the UK and the EU over medicines, a leading figure representing NHS providers has warned.

Thousands of different types of medications may not be available to patients after the end of the year if no agreement is reached, one pharmaceutical industry association has warned.

But the EU and UK remain in a stand-off, prompting a strongly worded warning and condemnation from Dr Layla McCay, director of policy for NHS Confederation, which represents organisations that provide and commission services.

“If you live in Northern Ireland and suffer from a serious illness, there is a very real possibility that in six months’ time, you won’t be able to access the medicines you need,” she said in an article for The Independent.

Dr McCay added: “This may sound alarmist, but since Brexit, Northern Ireland has become a ‘political football’ between the UK and EU.

“We must not allow Northern Irish patients to go to the back of the queue for medicines, or even worse, to become collateral damage in the political haggling between the UK and the EU.

“It’s unacceptable that people could find themselves without essential medication next year if the UK and the EU cannot come up with a solution.”

She warned: “The UK and EU must come to a swift agreement on how the protocol will work and provide companies with the time, support, and assurances they need to get ready.”

Arguments are continuing, with the UK suggesting that medicines could be removed from the scope of the NI Protocol and treated as a special case. The EU said the protocol is not up for negotiation but that it continues to “seek creative solutions” within its framework.

It has proposed compliance functions can continue to be performed in GB under certain conditions, including those linked to labelling and enhanced enforcement. Brexit Minister Lord Frost has said this remains too complicated.

More than 2,000 medicines are set to be withdrawn from Northern Ireland due to the Protocol, according to the British Generic Manufacturers Association (BGMA). It will be commercially unviable to sell some products, particularly more specialist types used by small numbers of people, the association said.

Most medications come from GB, yet Northern Ireland will be subject to the EU’s pharmaceutical regulatory system after December 31.

“Pharmaceutical companies are doing everything in their power to prepare for operating according to the new rules after the end of this year, but they are running out of time to make substantive changes to supply chains if needed,” said Dr McCay.

“New medicines approved only by the UK’s medicines regulator, the MHRA, and not the EU regulator, the EMA, will not routinely be available to Northern Irish patients in future,” she added.

“The majority of patients will still be able to obtain the medication they need. But it is likely there will be some who will find…suppliers…no longer prepared to import small quantities of medicines for specific conditions.”

HDA UK Media and Political Bulletin –  2 August 2021

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