We know that many of our patients are concerned about what might happen to the supply of their regular prescribed medicines in the event of a no-deal Brexit. I would like to give you an overview of the current position.
The Government has put arrangements in place to keep medicines flowing through the supply chain even in the event of a no-deal Brexit. The advice from the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) for patients, and for pharmacies like us, is to carry on as normal – so you should order your prescriptions in the usual way, at the usual times, and not attempt to stockpile your medicines. Pharmacies have also been advised to order normal amounts of medicines for their stock, and doctors have been told not to prescribe larger quantities of medicines than normal.
The DHSC has been working hard on contingency plans for a no-deal Brexit for almost a year now, to maintain a continuous supply of medicines and healthcare services for patients. There has been action at a national level to prepare for this, including arrangements for pharmacy wholesalers to carry extra stocks of medicines, arrangements for additional air and ferry freight capacity to bring medicines into the country as a priority if required, and mechanisms for pharmacists to obtain medicines from other sources.
We understand that there is a degree of uncertainty about what will happen after 31st October if we leave the EU without a deal, and can only reassure you that the Government, pharmacy and medical representative bodies, and pharmacies like us are working hard to mitigate the risks of this scenario in relation to the ongoing supply of your medicines, and we are constantly monitoring the situation. We are following the national guidance for pharmacies and will respond immediately if that guidance changes; we recommend that all patients continue to order their medicines in the way they usually would, as above.
It is worth mentioning that there is a current problem in the UK with shortages of some medicines, and while it’s easy to blame such things on Brexit, that’s not necessarily the case. There are lots of reasons why medicines may be in short supply, including problems with making the medicine, delays while batches are checked for quality, problems with the transportation of the medicines, or shortages of key ingredients. Sometimes there are problems with medicine prices going up significantly, or there may be a higher demand for a medicine using up all the supplies in the chain for a while. All UK pharmacies are working hard to minimise the impact of these shortages on our patients. And with Brexit – while nobody can be sure exactly what will happen after October, lots of work has been going on behind the scenes to prepare for it, so please follow the official advice for your medicines, which is – keep calm and carry on!