The Department of Health and Social Care has written to pharmacies and dispensing GPs to update the Brexit planning arrangements for medicines.
The revised ‘no-deal’ scenario outlined by health and social care secretary Matt Hancock warns of significantly reduced access through the channel ports of Dover and Folkestone for six months – which clearly affects plans by manufacturers to stockpile six weeks’ worth of medicines. As a result additional contingency arrangements are being considered, including use of other ports and storage.
The advice remains that frontline staff including dispensing GPs should not stockpile additional medicines beyond normal stock management: ordering will be monitored and unusual behaviour investigated. In addition, there is no need for clinicians to write prescriptions for longer amounts.
If asked, dispensers can advise patients not to store additional medicines at home. There is cooperation between industry, healthcare professionals, and Government to ensure a continued supply of medicines, even those in short supply, from the moment the UK leaves the EU. Via the Brexit Forum, a cross-organisation group, the DDA will ensure all arrangements are rural-proofed.
Pharmacy representative PSNC has set out its position on Brexit and medicines supply and its work with the DDA and other pharmacy organisations and stakeholders via this forum.
The letter describes a number of potential measures that could be in put in place to help minimise the impact of Brexit on medicines supply, pharmacies and patients, including:
- allowing pharmacies to generically substitute certain medicines
- relaxing the NHS Terms of Service obligation on pharmacists to help pharmacies to better manage medicine supplies
- using the new Information Disclosure Regulations to monitor and communicate stock availability pharmacies so that timely interventions can be made to minimise delays in procurement
- making Drug Tariff concession pricing more responsive to market prices
- relaxing the restrictions on pharmacy-to-pharmacy wholesale dealing without wholesaler dealers licenses to allow pharmacies to trade stock at a local level.
PSNC reports that it is pleased that DHSC is now consulting on legislative changes which, in the event of a no-deal Brexit, would assist with implementing many of these measures.