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Media And Political Bulletin – 23 August 2018

Media and Political Bulletin

23 August 2018

Media Summary

Government should compensate pharmacies buying extra stock to avert shortages post-Brexit

Pharmacy Business, Neil Trainis, 23 August 2018

Pharmacy Business reports that Paul Gershlick, a partner at the law practice VWV, has said the government should compensate pharmacies that are buying extra stocks of medicine to avert a shortage which could occur if UK leaves the European Union without a deal.

The article states that the prospect of a significant shortage hitting the UK drugs supply chain has already reared its head after it emerged that more than 400 drug molecules currently centrally approved in Europe may no longer available for distribution to patients in the UK post-Brexit.

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Full Coverage

Government should compensate pharmacies buying extra stock to avert shortages post-Brexit

Pharmacy Business, Neil Trainis, 23 August 2018

Paul Gershlick, a partner at the law practice VWV, has said the government should compensate pharmacies that are buying extra stocks of medicine to avert a shortage which could occur if UK leaves the European Union without a deal.

The prospect of a significant shortage hitting the UK drugs supply chain has already reared its head after it emerged that more than 400 drug molecules currently centrally approved in Europe may no longer available for distribution to patients in the UK post-Brexit.

Earlier this year Richard Freudenberg, the chief executive of the European Association of Euro-Pharmaceutical Companies, warned that a number of drugs will no longer be accessible in the UK from midnight on March 29 next year unless the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) registers those products for use in the UK.

However, he suggested any efforts to remedy a potentially devastating shortage was being hampered by a stand-off between the MHRA and the European Medicines Agency (EMA) who he said were passing responsibility off on one another.

In response, the MHRA recently told Pharmacy Business it was working with the EMA, which will move its headquarters from London to Amsterdam next year, “in planning for the UK’s withdrawal from the EU and future relationship.”

Yet as uncertainty over the terms of Brexit persists and no deal remaining a possibility, pharmaceutical companies are preparing to stockpile medicines and community pharmacies already shaken by government funding cuts may follow suit at considerable expense.

“In essence, some pharma companies are beginning to stockpile and the government is also looking to plan ahead. However, pharmacies have not yet been given clear information,” Gershlick said.

“If pharmacy is going to be asked to support the NHS by helping to smooth the supply chain with buying in extra stocks, they should be fairly compensated for it. This would come with a big impact on cash flow.”

Royal Pharmaceutical Society president Ash Soni told Sky News: “It is all very well asking us to stockpile but we do not get paid until the NHS buys the drugs, and there are financial implications about which we need to have clarity.”

When asked how he thought Brexit would impact the supply of medicines to patients in the UK, Gershlick said: “This depends on what sort of Brexit there is. The UK government has proposed a sensible plan in July in its (Brexit) white paper which, if accepted, would see a smooth continued operation in the supply of medicines as well as use of qualified persons and mutual respect and collaboration between the EMA and MHRA.

“‘If accepted’ are the key words there. It depends on how the EU reacts to the UK’s white paper. Or if there is another sensible deal that they propose in response, which would be acceptable to the UK. However, crashing out of the EU without any deal could lead to a less stable position.

“From what clients and others have said, I do not believe that the pharma supply chain is currently ready for this. Some manufacturers are starting to stockpile. The government is also taking steps to plan for a no-deal Brexit.

“But the costs and complexity with being able to supply and release medicines in a new way by March seem to be too great. I believe that, inevitably, a no-deal Brexit will impact on patients, with increased shortages beyond what we already see and unavailability of some medicines.”

When asked how the MHRA and EMA can avoid a drugs shortage, Gershlick said: “This will depend on what sort of deal is done. A deal with close alignment would avert this scenario. In public, the EMA and the MHRA have to toe the line.

“However, the best thing the EMA and MHRA could both do is to hold conversations with the European Commission and UK government respectively in private to emphasise the importance to patients and the pharma supply chain of doing a sensible deal.

“Hopefully then, with sensible heads explaining what is needed and the possible impact of each scenario, common sense will prevail.”

Earlier this year pharmaceutical industry experts discussed the potential impact of Brexit on the UK pharma sector and economy as well as regulatory changes, trade with the European Economic Area, immigration and funding during the Pharmaceutical Industry Network Group seminar held in conjunction with the Ethical Medicines Industry Group.

Media And Political Bulletin – 23 August 2018

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