News

Media And Political Bulletin – 29 November 2018

Media and Political Bulletin

29 November 2018

Media Summary

Note: The Regulation on veterinary medicinal products was approved by the Council of the European Union on 26th November 2018. As a next step, the European Parliament and Council of the EU need to formally sign off on the legislation. The text will be translated into all official languages of the European Union, after what the legislation will be published and the new rules will apply from the end of 2021.

GIRP has prepared an analysis of the final text extracting the key elements for healthcare distributors with a short comment provided to each provision. If you would like this presentation to be sent to you please email us.

GIRP will continue to monitor developments at a European level, in particular the European Commission’s development of GDPs for veterinary medicinal products.

Five key questions Brexit poses for the NHS

BBC News, Nick Triggle, 29 November 2019

BBC News reports that whether it is a no-deal Brexit or the agreement brokered by the Prime Minister, leaving the European Union promises to have a profound impact on patients and the wider NHS. They take a look at five key questions, one of them being “Will we run out of medicines?”.

They recall that last month, Martin Sawer told the Health Select Committee that he was “very concerned” about the prospect of a no deal, saying it could have “catastrophic” consequences for the supply of drugs.

Brexit – Medicine-by-medicine contingency planning

Politico, Katie Jennings, 29 November 2019

Politico reports that the U.K. government has drawn up a list of essential medicines for which supply must be prioritized in the event of no-deal Brexit.

Mike Thompson, CEO of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry told a parliamentary committee Wednesday that government and pharma reps are working together on specific supply plans for every medicine on that list. “Stockpiling in itself won’t be enough,” he said.

Hancock threatens Brexit deal only way to ensure “unhindered supply of medicines”

Care Appointments, Jennifer McKiernan & Elizabeth Arnold, 28 November 2019

Care Appointments reports that Health Secretary Matt Hancock has told the Commons MPs should vote for the Brexit deal to ensure medical stockpiles do not run out.

“Whilst voting for the deal is the best way to ensure unhindered supply of medicines and medical devices, as a responsible Government we’re also planning for the unlikely event of a no deal,” he said.

“That planning includes ensuring we can continue to get access unhindered after the six weeks for which we’re making sure the supplies are available.”

Brexit – Hancock in the spotlight

Politico, Katie Jennings, 28 November 2019

Politico reports that U.K. Health Secretary Matt Hancock was in the spotlight most of the day Tuesday — and Brexit, of course, was a hot topic. In the House of Commons in the morning, Hancock used several questions on concerns over medicines supplies, stockpiling and regulatory alignment as an opportunity to campaign for Theresa May’s deal.

But he couldn’t dodge the questions from the Commons’ Health and Social Care Committee in the afternoon. Chair Sarah Wollaston repeatedly asked for specifics around planning for blood products, HIV drugs, immunosuppressive medicines for transplant patients and others. When Hancock said the U.K. was “largely self-sufficient” since it “only” imports 6.5 percent of blood plasma from the EU, Wollaston said: “That totally misses the point. If you don’t have access in a timely manner that’s extremely important,” stressing that these products cannot be frozen.

Bricanyl Turbohaler supply issues

Dispensing Doctors’ Association, Ailsa Colquhoun, 29 November 2019

Dispensing Doctors’ Association reports that Astra Zeneca have advised of a supply issue affecting Bricanyl Turbohaler (terbutaline 500microgram turbohaler).

There will be interim deliveries expected in late November and in December but normal supply will not resume until end of January 2019.

Refrigeration for ‘no-deal’ Brexit medicine stockpiles to cost tens of millions of pounds, says Hancock

The Pharmaceutical Journal, Carolyn Wickware, 28 November 2019

The Pharmaceutical Journal reports that the Health and Social Care Secretary told MPs that the cost of securing cold-chain storage for stockpiling medicines in the event of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit would amount to tens of millions of pounds.

He clarified that the money would not come from the extra £20.5bn promised to the NHS in June 2018, but from the £1.5bn fund “that the Treasury has set aside for Brexit contingency planning”.

Hancock: Pharmacists must support May’s Brexit deal to ensure supply

Chemist+Druggist, James Waldron, 28 November 2019

Chemist+Druggist reports that Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said that pharmacists must support the Prime Minister’s deal to leave the EU if they want to ensure medicine supplies continue to reach the UK.

Mr Hancock was responding yesterday (November 27) to a question from Labour MP for Burnley Julie Cooper, who pointed to NHS Confederation warnings last month that some medicines may be delayed in reaching patients or may even become unavailable in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Analyst: No-deal Brexit would add £2.3B to NHS drugs, devices bill

Politico, Helen Collis, 27 November 2019

Politico reports that the National Health Service could face additional costs of £2.3 billion a year for medicines and devices if the U.K. leaves the European Union without a deal, a parliamentary committee heard on Tuesday.

Mark Dayan, policy and public affairs analyst at the Nuffield Trust think tank, told the House of Commons’ Health and Social Care Committee this was “specifically for the costs of supplies – medicines and devices.”

 

Parliamentary Coverage

Health and Social Care Committee – Withdrawal Agreement and health and social care

During a session of the Health and Social Care Committee on the Withdrawal Agreement and health and social care, MP’s heard from:

•           Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock

•           Sir Chris Wormald, Permanent Secretary, Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC)

•           Ian Dalton, Chief Executive, NHS Improvement

•           Simon Stevens, Chief Executive, NHS England

A summary can be found here.

Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee – Leaving the EU: implications for UK business

During a session of the Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy Committee on “Leaving the EU: implications for UK business”, MPs heard from:

•           Mike Thompson, Chief Executive, Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry

•           Mark Hicken, Managing Director, Janssen UK

•           Pinder Sahota, General Manager and Corporate VP, Novo Nordisk UK

A summary can be found here.

Commons Tabled Written Question – 28 November 2019

Paul Farrelly (Newcastle-under-Lyme): To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, with reference to the transition period set out in the agreement on the withdrawal of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland from the European Union, whether the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency will retain its status as a competent authority; and whether existing CE marks assigned under that agency will be valid from 29 March 2019 until the end of that transition period.

Mr Ben Bradshaw (Exeter): To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, whether contingency planning and expenditure by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) on any systems or processes, including software is being incurred on systems or processes which will be redundant in the event that an agreement is reached that includes continued full co-operation, based on regulatory alignment, with the European Medicines Agency after the UK leaves the EU.

 

Full Coverage

Five key questions Brexit poses for the NHS

BBC News, Nick Triggle, 29 November 2019

Whether it is a no-deal Brexit or the agreement brokered by the Prime Minister, leaving the European Union promises to have a profound impact on patients and the wider NHS.

From the staff who work on the wards and in the GP surgeries to the supply of vital medicines, there are implications.

Here is a look at five key questions.

Will we run out of medicines?

The UK imports 37 million packs of medicine each month from the EU – although it exports even more.

The port of Dover is the key supply route in and the transition arrangements mean it will remain unaffected.

The key challenge will be if there is a no-deal Brexit, because there is concern of potential huge delays at the port.

The government has asked firms to stockpile a six-week supply of drugs to mitigate any problems if there is no deal.

However, that is logistically difficult for medicines that need refrigerating, like insulin and vaccines, or those with a short shelf life, such as some cancer drugs.

Supplies of radioactive materials for scans could also be hit.

Contingency plans have been put in place to fly in vital treatments, the government has said.

But even the stockpiling of normal medicines is proving problematic, according to industry.

Small firms in particular have reported problems stockpiling drugs because they do not have the cash flows to fund reserves of supplies.

Last month, Martin Sawer, of the Healthcare Distributors Association, told the Health Select Committee that he was “very concerned” about the prospect of a no deal, saying it could have “catastrophic” consequences for the supply of drugs.

He even suggested the public may have to stockpile drugs themselves.

The government has always insisted this is not needed – and could in fact make the situation worse.

Only this week, Health Secretary Matt Hancock was telling MPs that while a no-deal scenario would be “difficult”, he was “confident that if everyone does everything they need to do, then we will have an unhindered supply of medicines”.

Will we have enough staff?

The health and social care sectors are huge employers with one-and-a-half million and two million staff respectively. About 5% of the registered workforce in each area are from Europe.

The Brexit agreement means all those currently working will have the opportunity to obtain “settled status” to allow them to stay.

It is not clear what a no-deal Brexit would mean.

The government has also indicated it will create a skilled migrants system similar to the one that operates for workers from the rest of the world. That system – known as tier two visas – allows doctors and senior nurses to be recruited from overseas.

But unions have pointed out that some lower-paid nurses and non-clinical staff such as health care assistants, porters and care workers will not be covered by such a system, because the cut-off is that the worker must be earning at least £30,000 a year.

There are other related factors too.

The message Brexit sends to people from Europe and the weaker value of the pound, which means any money sent back to their homeland is worth less, could put off people from working in the UK.

That is a point made last month by the Cavendish Coalition, a group of 36 health and care charities.

It predicted Brexit could worsen the staffing shortages currently being seen in the health service.

The government is more confident, arguing staff from Europe will stay and that it has a plan to “grow its own”, with increasing numbers of doctors and nurses in training.

What about our health insurance cards?

About 27 million people in the UK have European Health Insurance Cards.

They entitle the holder to state-provided medical treatment across the EU and also in Iceland, Liechtenstein, Norway or Switzerland.

The cards cover pre-existing medical conditions as well as emergency care.

This will continue during the transition period, but, like much else, what happens afterwards has yet to be resolved.

And if there is a no deal, the cover EHIC provides will cease to exist in theory.

Attempts could be made to put reciprocal agreements in place – and given the amount of tourism into the UK from Europe it would clearly be in everyone’s interest to ensure individuals are entitled to health care.

Then there are the one million UK citizens who live abroad in the EU.

They are currently eligible for the same health care as citizens of the EU country in which they live and they can use EHIC when they travel.

The EU and UK have agreed that these people would retain their rights, but once again a no-deal Brexit could scupper that.

Could medical research lose out?

The UK is considered a world leader in medical research, having produced around 25 of the top 100 prescription treatments.

The country currently benefits from access to research funding from the EU via programmes such as Horizon 2020 and the Innovative Medicines Initiative.

These will continue during the transition phase, but beyond that it seems likely the UK will be treated as a third-party collaborator, meaning it will be less likely to lead programmes and will have little role in the design of them.

Collaboration on rare diseases could also be put at risk. As the number of patients with rare conditions in each country is low, it is only possible to recruit enough patients for clinical trials by carrying out those trials across countries, according to the Brexit Health Alliance.

Restrictions to the free movement of researchers and academics could also have an impact. Around three-quarters of UK researchers have worked abroad and currently nearly a fifth of science, technology, engineering and mathematics academics at UK institutions are from the EU.

The government believes a “mutually beneficial outcome” is perfectly possible to deal with all these problems, given the UK is such a key player in medical and scientific research.

The government is also increasing its spending on research and development.

What about the £350m Brexit dividend?

It was one of the most controversial claims of the referendum campaign.

Vote Leave said the money saved in payments to the EU would mean an extra £350m a week could be spent on the NHS.

The Prime Minister has claimed this has come true. Over the summer she announced the NHS budget would increase by £20bn by 2023.

On top of that, about £4bn will be given to the rest of the UK.

That amounts to more than the promised £350m a week.

Theresa May has said it will be partly paid for by a Brexit “dividend”.

Although, as the UK is committed to paying into the EU budget until the end of the transition period and will also have to pay the £39bn divorce bill, it arguably leaves little to cover the cost of the rise.

The Treasury has said a combination of economic growth and perhaps even tax rises may be needed.

Another way to look at it is to ask whether the NHS would have got such a rise if Brexit was not on the cards?

Many think so. After all, it was long overdue.

Since 2010 the NHS has been receiving between 1% to 2% extra each year – half the average rises it previously enjoyed.

Brexit – Medicine-by-medicine contingency planning

Politico, Katie Jennings, 29 November 2019

The U.K. government has drawn up a list of essential medicines for which supply must be prioritized in the event of no-deal Brexit. Now, government and pharma reps are working together on specific supply plans for every medicine on that list, Mike Thompson, CEO of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry told a parliamentary committee Wednesday. “Stockpiling in itself won’t be enough,” he said. For each medicine, they are considering ferry routes, lorry waits at borders and air freight limitations, he said.

Stem cells: For example, he said for stem cell therapies, once a sample is taken for a U.K. patient, it’s likely to be transported to the EU to be processed within 24 hours, then it must return to the patient within 36-72 hours. The treatments can’t go by air because they cannot be x-rayed. “So what’s the back up plan? That’s the level of detail. I’m encouraged to be involved in [planning at] that level of detail,” he told the committee.

Concern over generics: Thompson argued that pharma was doing everything it could to ensure the industry is fully prepared for the worst-case scenario; he urged government, however, to take steps to protect supplies of generic drugs. “There are multiple suppliers on the market, who may not have the same feeling of ownership for their medicines, because if they don’t supply, they expect someone else to supply,” he said. That is going to be far more challenging for the government to work out what medicines will be available, he said.

Trade agreement: Thompson said the industry was looking for “as free a trade as possible in everything” in the new relationship with the EU. He underlined that without a deal, adopting World Trade Organization rules would add at least 6 percent to the cost of importing raw active ingredients for drugs, and there would be a host of bureaucratic costs too.

Hancock threatens Brexit deal only way to ensure “unhindered supply of medicines”

Care Appointments, Jennifer McKiernan & Elizabeth Arnold, 28 November 2019

MPs should vote for the Brexit deal to ensure medical stockpiles do not run out, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has told the Commons.

Mr Hancock said “voting for the deal is the best way to ensure unhindered supply of medicines”, in response to health questions.

He reportedly told the Prime Minister and her Cabinet that he “could not guarantee people would not die” if the UK ended up with a no-deal Brexit as it would disrupt access to medical supplies.

In the Commons, Labour MP Adrian Bailey (West Bromwich West) asked Mr Hancock to outline his plans for making sure patients could get medicine or if stockpiles would run out.

He said: “In the event of a no deal, what steps would be taken to secure the supply of medicines beyond the six-week stockpile that has been recommended by the Government to drug companies?”

Mr Hancock could not confirm plans were firmly in place, suggesting they were still being worked up.

“Whilst voting for the deal is the best way to ensure unhindered supply of medicines and medical devices, as a responsible Government we’re also planning for the unlikely event of a no deal,” he said.

“That planning includes ensuring we can continue to get access unhindered after the six weeks for which we’re making sure the supplies are available.”

Another Labour MP, Emma Reynolds (Wolverhampton North East), said Mrs May’s Political Declaration would mean patients would have to wait six months longer for new drugs.

She said: “We’re currently an influential member of the European Medicines Agency, which gives patients access to new drugs six months sooner than non-members.

“Given the Political Declaration reduces us to exploring the possibility of co-operation with the EMA will he admit there are no guarantees for patients and they will likely have to wait longer?”

He replied: “No. Because under any circumstances we will make sure there are no further burdens on ensuring medicines can be licensed here so patients can use them – but it is another reason she should vote for the deal.”

Conservative MP Anna Soubry asked Mr Hancock whether the NHS windfall was indeed a “Brexit dividend” or whether it would be continued if the UK remained in the EU as well.

She said: “The much-heralded £20 billion extra for the NHS, many say, is some sort of Brexit dividend.

“In the event the country remains in the EU, can he confirm that extra 3.4% a year will continue and that £20 billion will be made available to our NHS?”

Mr Hancock swerved the question, instead insisting the UK would leave the EU next year.

He said: “I’m afraid I’m going to have to let her know we are leaving the EU on 29 March.”

Labour all for government to reverse cuts to NHS staff training

GP numbers have dropped by 700 in the last 12 months and there are an estimated 107,000 vacancies across the NHS, Labour has claimed.

Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth called on the Government to “reverse those cuts to training and deliver the staff our NHS need”.

But Health Secretary Matt Hancock hit back insisting there were record numbers of GPs in training and a record number of nurses in the NHS, adding: “We want to do more and we will.”

He said every EU worker in the health system “is welcome here” and “we are grateful for their service”.

Speaking during Commons health and social care questions, Mr Ashworth said: “I know the secretary of state got into a muddle last week on his GP figures so perhaps can I suggest he downloads an exciting new app to his phone, it’s called the calculator.

“Now on the point about more for community and primary care by 2024, can he today guarantee that there will be the extra GPs and extra district nurses to provide those services he is promising?”

Mr Hancock replied: “Yes I can because we are doing everything that we can to make sure that we have the people. Given that we’re having the money coming into the NHS, we need to make sure we’ve got the people to do the work and I’m delighted to say we have a record number of GPs in training right now.”

Mr Ashworth raised concerns over the Health Education England budget.

He said: “GP numbers have gone down by 700, haven’t they, in the last year. We have 107,000 vacancies across the NHS, we’ve got acute trusts closing A&E departments overnight, looking at closing chemotherapy departments, and the Health Education England training budget is the lowest it’s been for five years, with more cuts to come next year.

“So will he agree that if his long-term plan next week is to be credible he has to reverse those cuts to training and deliver the staff our NHS needs?”

Mr Hancock replied: “It’s a bit of a surprise because he’s normally such a reasonable fellow. I thought he’d welcome the record numbers of GPs in training, that he’d welcome the record number of nurses that we have in the NHS, and yes, of course, because we love the NHS, we want to do more and we will.”

SNP MP Stephen Gethins (North East Fife) called on Mr Hancock to apologise for the term “queue jumpers”, adding that many public health workers were EU nationals.

He said: “Now, does he share my concerns about the term ‘queue jumpers’, will he apologise for that, and will he go further and make sure that no public health worker will be faced with additional costs in order to remain in their homes in the UK?”

Mr Hancock said: “Well every EU worker across our health system, the social care system, whether in the NHS itself, working in public health, in local authorities on these areas or in social care, is welcome here, is supported to be welcome here. We look forward to the settled status scheme rolling out and we are grateful for their service.”

Theresa May earlier said she used the wrong language when she told business leaders her post-Brexit immigration plans would stop EU workers being able to “jump the queue”.

Brexit – Hancock in the spotlight

Politico, Katie Jennings, 28 November 2019

U.K. Health Secretary Matt Hancock was in the spotlight most of the day Tuesday — and Brexit, of course, was a hot topic. In the House of Commons in the morning, Hancock used several questions on concerns over medicines supplies, stockpiling and regulatory alignment as an opportunity to campaign for Theresa May’s deal. “The deal that the Prime Minister struck to leave the EU will ensure access to medicines and medicines equipment so it’s another good reason to vote for the deal,” he said.

But he couldn’t dodge the questions from the Commons’ Health and Social Care Committee in the afternoon. Chair Sarah Wollaston repeatedly asked for specifics around planning for blood products, HIV drugs, immunosuppressive medicines for transplant patients and others. When Hancock said the U.K. was “largely self-sufficient” since it “only” imports 6.5 percent of blood plasma from the EU, Wollaston said: “That totally misses the point. If you don’t have access in a timely manner that’s extremely important,” stressing that these products cannot be frozen.

Head to head: Wollaston asked for the list of drugs whose supply is at risk from no deal, but Hancock argued that “for those companies the nature of those supply chains and contracts is confidential.” “We can’t scrutinize you unless we have the information,” she said, to which he replied: “I feel pretty held to account now.”

The two were also at loggerheads over a so-called “Brexit dividend” for the NHS once the U.K. no longer pays for EU membership, with Wollaston firmly convinced there won’t be one. “The health service will be better off after we leave the EU on 29th March under any deal because we are putting in £20.5 billion,” Hancock argued, before being pushed to admit this money was going into the NHS regardless of Brexit.  Getting animated, Hancock declined to consider forecasts of increased costs, since he doesn’t trust analysts. Asked by Wollaston what extra costs the NHS will face after leaving EU, he said: “NHS faces costs that change all the time. Exchange rates affect price of drugs … we don’t know exchange rates in the future … all sorts of costs change.”

Industry ministerial meet: This morning, reps from the pharmaceutical industry, medical devices, generics and others will meet with ministers to discuss in detail the supply issue concerns in the event of a no-deal Brexit. On the table will be topics such as border routes, customs and IT issues.

Bricanyl Turbohaler supply issues

Dispensing Doctors’ Association, Ailsa Colquhoun, 29 November 2019

Astra Zeneca have advised of a supply issue affecting Bricanyl Turbohaler (terbutaline 500microgram turbohaler).

There will be interim deliveries expected in late November and in December but normal supply will not resume until end of January 2019.

Further information is available in this letter; clinical management strategies are available from UKMi online. Practice staff are advised that patients will require retraining if they are required to be switched to a different device.

Refrigeration for ‘no-deal’ Brexit medicine stockpiles to cost tens of millions of pounds, says Hancock

The Pharmaceutical Journal, Carolyn Wickware, 28 November 2019

The Health and Social Care Secretary told MPs that the cost of securing cold-chain storage for stockpiling medicines in the event of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit would amount to tens of millions of pounds.

Building refrigeration capacity to store stockpiles of medicines in the event of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit is expected to cost in the “low tens of millions” of pounds, the health and social care secretary Matt Hancock has said.

Speaking to MPs at a House of Commons Health and Social Care Select Committee meeting on 26 November 2018, Hancock stated that the exact amount would become clear “shortly” after contract bids were finalised.

He clarified that the money would not come from the extra £20.5bn promised to the NHS in June 2018, but from the £1.5bn fund “that the Treasury has set aside for Brexit contingency planning”.

Hancock first told the committee in October 2018 that the government had put contracts out to tender for suppliers of cold-chain storage, with the possibility that space may be converted to medical storage “which currently isn’t” up to the required standards.

In the latest session in front of the committee, he said the response to the contract tender “has been good”.

He told the committee: “We’ll shortly be concluding that, and that will involve spending the first money in preparation for no-deal, in the low tens of millions [of pounds].

“The exact figure will depend on the response to the invitation to tender and which of the bids we choose.”

In August 2018, the government told community pharmacists not to stockpile drugs because it was working with manufacturers to secure six weeks’ worth of medicines in the event of a no-deal scenario.

Hancock clarified that six-week’s worth of contingency planning “is a cross-government planning assumption”, which is being reviewed “all the time”.

He added: “We have further contingency work on a range of contingencies, should the disruptions go on for longer than that.

“But our planning assumption is that then we’ll need a range of other options, such as prioritisation rather than stockpiling — there’s only so much stockpiling that you can do.”

Hancock told the committee that responding to its recent request for a list of medicines at risk under a no-deal Brexit would be “a challenge” as “the nature of their supply chains and the nature of their contracts is commercially confidential” but committed to providing “as much information on the planning as we think is feasible”.

Hancock: Pharmacists must support May’s Brexit deal to ensure supply

Chemist+Druggist, James Waldron, 28 November 2019

Pharmacists must support the Prime Minister’s deal to leave the EU if they want to ensure medicine supplies continue to reach the UK, Health Secretary Matt Hancock has said.

Mr Hancock was responding yesterday (November 27) to a question from Labour MP for Burnley Julie Cooper, who pointed to NHS Confederation warnings last month that some medicines may be delayed in reaching patients or may even become unavailable in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Ms Cooper also claimed that the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency is “worried that diabetics will not be able to access insulin” should a no-deal Brexit occur.

“What steps is the minister taking to ensure that community pharmacies are able to supply vital medical supplies post-Brexit, particularly in the event of no deal?” Ms Cooper asked in a parliamentary debate.

Mr Hancock responded: “Community pharmacies, like everybody else, should support the Prime Minister’s deal, which will make sure that eventuality does not occur.”

Theresa May is currently touring the UK trying to sell her Brexit deal, which the Prime Minister claimed will ensure a “free trade area that will allow goods to flow easily across our borders”.

RPS vague on second referendum stance

The Royal College of General Practitioners will back a second Brexit referendum – this time on the terms of Ms May’s deal – following a vote by GPs, trade publication Pulse said on Monday (November 26).

When asked by C+D whether the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) would back a similar motion, the society declined to answer directly, instead saying: “We have regular meetings with government about Brexit, advising on how to support medicines supply, pharmacists and their patients.”

Read how the Brexit vote has changed the lives of European pharmacists in the UK here.

Analyst: No-deal Brexit would add £2.3B to NHS drugs, devices bill

Politico, Helen Collis, 27 November 2019

The National Health Service could face additional costs of £2.3 billion a year for medicines and devices if the U.K. leaves the European Union without a deal, a parliamentary committee heard today.

Mark Dayan, policy and public affairs analyst at the Nuffield Trust think tank, told the House of Commons’ Health and Social Care Committee this was “specifically for the costs of supplies – medicines and devices.”

He said that while modeling has not yet been done for the impact of the Withdrawal Agreement signed off by EU leaders, he said that scenario was similar to a new free-trade agreement. That model adds an estimated £100 million per year for devices and £300 million per year for medicines.

“It could be higher, but much less than a no-deal scenario,” he said. That is because “you wouldn’t expect the same drop in the value of the pound driving up costs.” In addition, Dayan said the government’s new drug pricing agreement with the pharmaceutical industry, to come into effect from January, should be able to hold down small increases in prices.

Under a Norway agreement, with access to the single market but not the customs union, he estimated a 2 percent rise in the price of medicines.

Under a Norway Plus agreement, remaining in the single market and customs union, it’s “not clear why costs should be any higher than current position,” he said.

Media And Political Bulletin – 29 November 2018

From Factory to Pharmacy

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