Brexit remains very much in the zeitgeist and as we draw closer to March 29th, the clamour for information and certainty will surely grow to something of a crescendo.
The question above is a paraphrase of what I am being asked every single day by patients wondering how Brexit will affect them personally – will they manage to get their hands on the medicines they need?
Dr Andrews Online Pharmacy remains apolitical, and this blog is for those who voted either way in The EU Referendum (or indeed, did not vote at all!).
Medicines can be in short supply for a variety of reasons… and the current shortages in the market are NOT being caused by Brexit but by specific issues relating to the manufacture of those medicines. Brexit or no Brexit, some shortages will always occur.
As we look towards the next few weeks, it is possible that supply will be affected – but much has been done to mitigate any issues.
According to the Chief Pharmaceutical Officer for Scotland, The UK imports over two thirds of all the medicines used.
The vast majority of these imports arrive in The UK on ferries from Europe and as part of the free movement of goods are not subject to border checks.
If a deal is struck, then the import arrangement will continue throughout the transition period and medicine supply will continue as normal.
In the event of a No Deal scenario, then there is more disagreement over the outcome. Pro-Brexiteer groups have a more optimistic outlook than the pro-remain camp (arguments that we have all heard countless times now!).
What seems indisputable, is that a no deal Brexit will cause delays at the border when the free movement of goods no longer exists.
It is on this point that The UK Government has sought to organise its contingency plans.
1. Securing more ferry capacity with prioritisation for medicines
2. Short life medicines to be brought into the country by air
3. Encouraging medicine wholesalers to hold at least 6 weeks of stock
4. Legislating for a Serious Shortage Protocol
5. Discouraging patients and pharmacies to stockpile medicines
As well as The Chief Pharmaceutical Officers of England and Scotland, the trade bodies representing pharmacies in The UK (Community Pharmacy Scotland and The Pharmacy Services Negotiating Committee) have reiterated the message: There is no need to stockpile.
That said, the Serious Shortage Protocol noted above will give Community Pharmacists the responsibility to “ration” medicines in the event of catastrophic shortages. This may mean you receive less medicine than your prescription, receive a different strength, an alternate form or even an alternate medicine. This is at the end of the contingency plan and would only kick in if the rest of the plan fails to keep enough supply ongoing.
No, I definitely do not. But the truth is, I can’t see things deteriorating to that level.
Most Community Pharmacies bulk buy their key medicines a month a time (not stockpiling, just a month’s stock at the start of each month). Factored into this, the 6 weeks of stockpile that the wholesalers are holding, and there should not be wide spread medicine shortages (I’d also wager that most of the big drug wholesalers have squirrelled away a little more than 6 weeks supply).
The greatest risk that may cause a shortage is panic. Despite the government guidance, I know of 2 Community Pharmacies who have placed orders for 6 months of stock as a “Brexit Order”. As clever as they may think they are, the cost of many medicines is currently falling, and their plan may backfire as they are left sitting on 6 months of relatively expensive stock.
Yes, Dr Andrews Online Pharmacy can help Brexit-Proof your sex life.
Larger packs of our key lines have been added to the website to give you the peace of mind should you wish to hold slightly more stock (Sildenafil, Viagra and Tadalafil).
Delivery is now FREE on orders over £40 making the larger packs even better value.
We always carry a minimum of 4 weeks stock and we will stretch this to 6 weeks as Brexit draws closer.
Our buying team are in daily contact with our suppliers and will respond promptly to the market if required.
I am not panicking, and I encourage you not to panic either. The Government, Medical Wholesalers and Community Pharmacies across The UK have plans in place to minimise disruption. That said, a little preparedness may be advisable, and I hope the steps taken by Dr Andrews Online Pharmacy can help you prepare and put your mind at ease.