Warning over NHS drug supply as no-deal Brexit looms

Hospitals could run out of drugs in the event of a no-deal Brexit, according to a leaked letter from a group representing NHS hospitals and ambulance services.

There has been a failure to prepare for the dreaded “no deal” situation because of poor coordination between ministers and the health service, according to an email from NHS Providers, which was leaked to The Times.

In the email, Chris Hopson, chief executive of NHS Providers described how a hard Brexit, or no deal, could disrupt “the entire supply chain of pharmaceuticals”.

Hopson is also concerned about how Brexit could “jeopardise” the EU citizens that the NHS relies upon, according to the letter sent to NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens, and NHS Improvement chief Ian Dalton on Friday.

According to Hopson the risk of a no-deal or hard Brexit with “minimal regulatory alignment” is growing.

However, the detailed operation planning that is needed to manage this situation has been hampered by a lack of communication from the government, according to Hopson.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) is already leaving its London headquarters and relocating to Amsterdam because of Brexit.

But as the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) pointed out earlier this month, there are no firm arrangements about an implementation period for Brexit, and the role of the UK drugs regulator after the country leaves the EU.

The government wants the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) to continue to play a role in the European medicines regulation system after Brexit, but details remain unclear as the March 2019 deadline looms and negotiations drag on.

Brexit secretary Dominic Raab is heading to Brussels in the coming days for the latest round of negotiations with EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier.

The government is also due to issue a series of technical notices to help people and businesses prepare for a no-deal scenario.

NHS Providers is calling for a national contingency plan for Trusts in the event of a hard Brexit, to enable the NHS to build up stockpiles of medicines and devices if the matters are not concluded.

Don't miss your daily pharmaphorum news.
SUBSCRIBE free here.