Brexit affecting supplies of generic drugs, say pharmacists

Brexit is already affecting supply and prices of drugs in UK pharmacies, the BBC has reported.

The BBC’s 5 Live Breakfast reported that pharmacies are stockpiling generic drugs, and prices are fluctuating amid the political uncertainty.

Manufacturers of branded drugs have been stockpiling their products at the request of the government in preparation for a ‘no deal’ scenario since earlier this year.

Government policy is that the manufacturers’ stockpiles will be enough to cover any shortfall should a ‘no deal’ begin to affect the supply of medicines coming into the UK from Europe.

But people in the entire supply chain are now stockpiling, and this is beginning to affect availability, according to the report.

The Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) said the stockpiling is putting pressure on supply and prices already.

Simon Dukes, chief executive of the PSNC, told the programme: “We have supply shortages. They can be for a number of reasons – they can be because of manufacturing problems or transportation issues, or just an increased demand.

“Where you have those supply shortages, concerns around a ‘no deal’ Brexit are likely to exacerbate those ongoing issues.

“We have worked very closely with the Department of Health and Social Care and fully support what they and the Secretary of State are doing to ensure that all patients get their medicines during the course of the next few months.

“What we are seeing anecdotally is that although the Secretary of State has been very clear and issued a letter to industry that six weeks’ supply should be stockpiled by the manufacturers, what we are seeing is that other stockpiling is happening in other parts of the supply chain, and that may well be exacerbating some of the supply issues.”

In the UK pharmacies pay prices for generic drugs according to a tariff agreed by the government and the PSNC, which is designed to prevent pharmacies competing with each other on price to secure supplies.

The pharmacies are then reimbursed in situations where there is ample supply of the product.

Pharmacies can however pay higher prices in situations where supplies are scarce and there is an urgent need to meet patient demand.

The BBC noted that as a result the NHS will have to cover any fluctuations in costs caused by disruption to the supply chain.

 

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