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10 October 2019

Plans for medicines supplies post Brexit are in good shape, says Government

Epilepsy Society has welcomed the news that 96 per cent of medicine suppliers in the UK have now responded to the Government about their preparations for exiting the European Union.

And 82 per cent have confirmed that they have at least a six-week buffer of medicine supplies in preparation for a potential no-deal Brexit on 31 October. This compares with 72 per cent reported last month in a National Audit Office document.

The Government is not allowed to share details of which medicine suppliers have confirmed their six-week stockpile, but many have shared details with Epilepsy Society. Updates of individual medications can be found here.

Positive news

Stephen Canning, Head of External Affairs at Epilepsy Society, said: “There is much anxiety around shortages of epilepsy medications and particularly the impact that a no-deal Brexit might have on supplies. So it is good to hear some positive news.

“We meet with the Department of Health and Social Care on a very regular basis to discuss issues around Brexit and continuity of supplies, so we know how hard they are working to ensure that everyone will continue to receive their medication, even if we leave the EU without a deal.

“But obviously we would not be human if we did not worry about the finer details. We are very much working in unchartered territory with Brexit but it is reassuring to know that the medicines supply team at DHSC, including many pharmacists, are doing everything they can to mitigate for any risks around Brexit.

“And we are very grateful that the Government understands the unique challenges faced by people whose medication regime has often been finely tuned over many years and for whom a breakthrough seizure could be devastating.”

Matt Hancock statement

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has also issued a statement outlining the Government’s progress with preparations to ensure a continuity of medical supplies following a no-deal Brexit.  He said he is confident that his Department is taking appropriate measures to prepare for a no-deal exit on 31 October. He said DHSC had already achieved a great deal by working with pharmaceutical companies and medical device manufacturers. However, he stressed that people should keep taking their medicines as normal and should not consider stockpiling themselves.

“Local or personal stockpiling remains unnecessary and could cause shortages in other areas, which could put patient care at risk,” he said.

Stockpiling medicines

Stephen Canning continued: “We are very keen to reiterate this message about stockpiling to all our supporters. We understand how tempting it might be to try to build up a personal buffer of medicines, but this could result in someone else going without.

“The DHSC contingency plans are the best way to ensure a fair distribution of medicines. Your GP, pharmacist or specialist is the best person to advise you on managing your medication.”

You can read Matt Hancock’s full statement here