HSE warns over drug sup­ply in no-deal Brexit sce­nario

Ire­land has a crit­i­cal re­liance on UK as a source of medicines, says pharma ndus­try

The Irish Times - - Home News - MARTIN WALL and JEN­NIFER BRAY

The HSE has told the Gov­ern­ment of con­cerns in the health sec­tor about the con­tin­u­ing sup­ply of 45 drugs for pa­tients in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

The Health Prod­ucts Reg­u­la­tory Au­thor­ity (HPRA) keeps a record of which drugs are in lim­ited sup­ply ev­ery month, with this list viewed as be­ing po­ten­tially crit­i­cal if the UK crashes out of the EU with­out a deal. It is un­der­stood there are cur­rently 45 such drugs, and of­fi­cials fear this num­ber could rise with is­sues around short­ages po­ten­tially be­com­ing more pro­nounced. Of­fi­cials are con­cerned par­tic­u­larly with drugs with a short shelf life.

The HSE, the HPRA and the Depart­ment of Health have held a num­ber of meet­ings on the is­sue, and are cur­rently map­ping out a plan for each of those drugs as part of no-deal plan­ning which the Gov­ern­ment is in­volved in.

The HSE is also look­ing into po­ten­tial is­sues around the sup­ply of hu­man breast milk, which is brought across the Bor­der from Fer­managh. Such stocks are needed for pre­ma­ture ba­bies. It is un­der­stood the HSE be­lieves that such a bank could be set up in Ire­land if is­sues arose.

The Gov­ern­ment has also been told it will need to make no-deal plans for food­stuffs for those who have spe­cialised di­ets and rely on prod­ucts from the UK, and for med­i­cal de­vices from rub­ber gloves to hip re­place­ment equip­ment.

Memos de­tail­ing con­tin­gency plans for the health and trans­port sec­tors will be brought to Cab­i­net to­mor­row.

Avi­a­tion agree­ments

A spokes­woman for Min­is­ter for Trans­port Shane Ross said progress had been made in re­cent weeks in re­la­tion to avi­a­tion agree­ments which would be needed to en­sure flights were not grounded.

“In re­cent weeks a sub­stan­tial amount of progress has been achieved with the Euro­pean Com­mis­sion in re­la­tion to con­tin­ued avi­a­tion con­nec­tiv­ity and con­tin­ued in­ter­na­tional road haulage ac­cess be­tween the EU and UK, thus re­duc­ing po­ten­tial dif­fi­cul­ties in the short term.

“Work is also con­tin­u­ing on a cross-de­part­men­tal ba­sis to en­sure that checks by cus­toms and by the De­part­ments of Agri­cul­ture and Health can be car­ried out at our ports and air­ports in the af­ter­math of Brexit.”

A spokes­woman for Tá­naiste Si­mon Coveney said that “im­por­tant memos are be­ing brought to Cab­i­net to­mor­row, which are all part of our on­go­ing prepa­ra­tions for Brexit. The de­bate will con­tinue in the UK this week, and we’ll re­spond once we know the re­sult of the vote.”

The phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal in­dus­try told the Depart­ment of Health last Fri­day in ad­vance of the memo be­ing brought to Cab­i­net that Ire­land had a crit­i­cal re­liance on the UK as a

‘‘ Up to 60 per cent of mar­keted medic­i­nal prod­ucts share la­bels and leaflets with the UK mar­ket

source of medicines.

The Ir­ish Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal Health­care As­so­ci­a­tion (IPHA) – which rep­re­sents the in­ter­na­tional re­search-based phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal sec­tor which man­u­fac­tures branded pre­scrip­tion medicines – said up to 70 per­cent of medicines on the Ir­ish mar­ket came from or tran­sited through the UK. “Up to 60 per cent of mar­keted medic­i­nal prod­ucts share la­bels and leaflets with the UK mar­ket,” it said.

The IPHA said in its let­ter to the Depart­ment of Health that in the event of a no-deal Brexit, com­plex ar­range­ments had been made by com­pa­nies, work­ing closely with the Health Prod­ucts Reg­u­la­tory Au­thor­ity, to se­cure con­ti­nu­ity of sup­ply. It said these in­cluded re-rout­ing trans­port away from the UK and ac­ti­vat­ing the dis­patch of bridg­ing stocks of cer­tain medicines iden­ti­fied at the in­di­vid­ual com­pany level.

“While the in­dus­try as a whole is not plan­ning to hold sig­nif­i­cant stocks of medicines, com­pa­nies have be­gun to ex­am­ine their own prod­uct port­fo­lios so that if bridg­ing stocks are re­quired in cer­tain cases they can eas­ily be made avail­able.”

It is un­der­stood the memo which will be brought to Cab­i­net will also rec­om­mend against stock­pil­ing, stat­ing that after March 30th there is an eight to 10 week stock of most drugs.

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