UK Government preparing for post-Brexit medicines shortages

Written by Tom Freeman on 7 December 2018 in News

UK Health Secretary admits emergency measures to maintain access to medicines are being prepared

Matt Hancock - Stefan Rousseau/PA 

The UK Government is making contingency plans for a medicines shortage in the event of a no-deal Brexit, UK Health Secretary Matt Hancock has admitted.

In interviews this morning Hancock said medicine supplies would be given priority at ports like Dover if Britain crashes out of Europe without customs and trade arrangements in place.

The comments follow reports that ministers were preparing to issue orders to pharmacists to reduce quantities of drugs given out or issue “therapeutic alternatives”.

Hancock told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that “this is something we are consulting on”, as well as stockpiling medicines.

“If there is serious disruption at the border we will have prioritisation, and prioritisation will include medicines and medical devices,” he said.

He insisted the Department of Health was “on track” with arrangements for a no-deal Brexit.

The proposed “serious shortage protocol” would “allow our highly-trained pharmacists to provide an appropriate alternative should there be a shortage of certain types of medicines”.

“In the unlikely event of a shortage of any medicine, it is vital that patients continue to receive the high level of treatment they expect,” it adds.

Hancock has joined Chancellor Philip Hammond, Cabinet Office Minister David Lidington and Scottish Secretary David Mundell in trying to sell Theresa May’s Brexit deal to the public in visits across the UK, ahead of Westminster voting on it next week.

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