Medicines stockpiled for no-deal Brexit ‘contingency’, Varadkar says

No-deal Brexit would see “restrictions” importing medicines from UK, Varadkar says

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar made comments on contingency planning for medicines while visiting Italy. Photograph: EPA

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar made comments on contingency planning for medicines while visiting Italy. Photograph: EPA


Ireland is making contingency plans to stock additional supplies of medicines, as part of potential no-deal Brexit planning, Taoiseach Leo Varadkar has said.

“There is potentially a concern around medicines . . . because a lot of our supply chains go through the United Kingdom,” Mr Varadkar said.

Some pharmaceutical companies “see the UK and Ireland as a single market and everything down to the packaging and the English language information that comes with your box of tablets is done on a UK or Ireland-wide basis”, he said.

Contingency planning for a hard Brexit, or no-deal scenario have heightened, as negotiations between the United Kingdom and the European Union edge closer to the wire. The EU summit in October is scheduled to be the deadline for negotiating a post-Brexit deal.

“Some companies might see Ireland’s market as just too small on its own, so that is a concern that we have and it’s one that we’re developing contingency plans on,” Mr Varadkar said.

He made the comments late last week in Italy, on the tail end of a trip where he also visited European leaders in Croatia and Romania.

In a situation without a post-Brexit deal there would be “restrictions” importing medicines from Britain, Mr Varadkar said.

“A lot of these medicines are made in Ireland anyway, so they won’t be a problem” in a no-deal Brexit situation, he said.

“It’s not that it would be impossible to import from the UK . . . There would be restrictions, obviously, so part of our contingency planning does involve making sure that we have a supply of medicines,” he said.

A spokeswoman for the Health Service Executive (HSE) confirmed contingency planning was underway “in a number of areas in relation to Brexit”.

The health service was drawing up plans to ensure no matter the outcome of negotiations that measures were in place to “maintain patient services and continuity of supplies”, she said.

Health officials were liaising with pharmaceutical industry groups and distributors “ in order to identify risk areas regarding supply”, the spokeswoman said. Work was ongoing to “ensure that contingency arrangements are in place in the event of disruption arising due to Brexit”, she said.