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Government no-deal Brexit plans to safeguard medicines welcomed

Epilepsy Society has welcomed Government plans to ensure that patients in the UK - including those with epilepsy - will be able to access a consistent supply of their medications in the event of a no-deal Brexit in March 2019.

Health minister Matt Hancock has written to pharmaceutical companies asking them to ensure they have a minimum six week stockpile of prescription-only and pharmacy-only medicines in case of potential delays at UK borders.

And he has given the companies until 10 September 2018 to indicate how they propose to ensure continuity of supply of medicines from the European Union or European Economic Area for all NHS patients.

Epilepsy drugs

Many generic anti-epileptic medications are imported from Croatia, Hungary, Germany and Switzerland.

The Minister wrote in his letter to the pharmas: "We are confident that, with adequate preparation and your support, we can together safeguard patient care in the event of no deal."

Epilepsy Society responds

Chief executive at Epilepsy Society, Clare Pelham, said she felt reassured that the Government was making contingency plans in a timely manner.

"It is absolutely vital that people with epilepsy are able to access a consistent supply of medication without having to worry," she said. "Any change or interruption to medication, can result in a breakthrough seizure and this can have a high impact on a person’s life in terms of driving, employment and education.

“Anxieties around supplies of medication can in themselves trigger a seizure. It is good to see that the Government is ahead of the curve on this one and to know that one of the most critical political milestones of our time should not impact on people who depend on medication for good seizure control.

"We will look forward to further Government updates as they begin to build up a comprehensive picture of individual plans in place by the pharmaceutical companies. We will of course be monitoring the situation closely in case anything changes."

Short shelf life

Where products are known to have a short-shelf life and cannot be stockpiled in advance, the Government is asking pharmaceutical companies to arrange for medicines to be air-freighted in from Europe rather than risking possible border delays by road and rail routes.

More about epilepsy drugs 

Getting the same medication every time

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