‘Watchlist’ of 24 drugs could be subject to shortages – Taoiseach

No-deal Brexit could affect supply of intravenous foods and radiotherapy drugs

The Cabinet yesterday discussed potential disruptions to the supply of medicines which could occur if the UK crashes out of the EU without a deal. Photograph: EPA/Andy Rain

The Cabinet yesterday discussed potential disruptions to the supply of medicines which could occur if the UK crashes out of the EU without a deal. Photograph: EPA/Andy Rain

 

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said that the Government has a “watchlist” of 24 drugs, including radiotherapy drugs, which could be subject to shortages in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

The Minister for Health Simon Harris said, however, that a final figure has not yet been arrived at, though 45 drugs are frequently listed as being in short supply each month.

The Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) and Department of Health met last week. Mr Harris said products which could be affected included intravenous foods and radiotherapy products.

Despite the monthly shortage list run by the HPRA, the Minister for Health said that even if there is a no-deal Brexit there will not be an immediate effect in relation to the supply of medicines.

The Cabinet yesterday discussed potential disruptions to the supply of medicines which could occur if the UK crashes out of the EU without a deal.

“It is a really important message that I want to deliver to people in our country today, both to patients and pharmacies, that there is no need to stockpile medicines and the reason is twofold. Firstly if we were to stockpile medicines it could have the unintended consequence of actually disrupting the supply chain.”

Alternative arrangements

“The second reason is a very important one and one that I hope provides reassurance to our citizens which is that we have supply of several weeks for most medicines in this country, so already in terms of our supply chain and in terms of how the industry and health service operates, there is already several weeks of supply of medication in our country.”

Mr Harris said alternative arrangements are being put in place for the sourcing of some medicines.

“Obviously Brexit poses significant challenges for the supply of all goods and medicines are obviously goods as well. But we are putting in contingency plans in place, we have contingency plans in place for alternative distribution routes should that arise.

“The HPRA and the HSE are continuing to monitor and look for any medications that may be at risk so that they can put in place alternative planning.”

Earlier in the day, Mr Varadkar said 24 drugs were on a watchlist which the Government was concerned about. Mr Harris said the final figure has not yet been reached.

“This is an ongoing exercise. There are still issues that need to be worked through. There isn’t a finalised list, this is a body of work that will conclude in the coming weeks. It is a piece of work that will evolve even post Brexit.”