Medicine shortage warning by Brexit secretary dismissed

Government sources taken aback by tone and content of Steve Barclay’s speech

Warnings by a British minister that Ireland could face shortages of medicines in the event of a no-deal Brexit have been dismissed. Photograph: PA Wire

Warnings by a British minister that Ireland could face shortages of medicines in the event of a no-deal Brexit have been dismissed. Photograph: PA Wire

 

Warnings by a UK minister that Ireland could face shortages of medicines in the event of a no-deal Brexit have been dismissed by senior Irish officials.

Government sources were taken aback by the tone and content of Brexit secretary Steve Barclay’s speech on Thursday in Madrid, in which he demanded that the backstop be removed from the withdrawal agreement, warned of economic damage to Spain and pointed to possible medicine and food shortages in Ireland if a no-deal departure caused delays at ports.

Taoiseach Leo Varadkar yesterday said there would be no difficulty in Ireland with supplies of medicines or food in the wake of Brexit, although some British brands might not be available.

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Significant preparations have been undertaken in the State since last year to ensure the supply of medicines is uninterrupted if the UK crashes out. In fact, medical supplies are one of the areas of least worry within Government.

Sources admit there are anxieties about a no-deal in a range of areas, but medicines are not high on the list of immediate concerns.

The HSE has assembled supplies of medical devices – from surgical gloves to heart implants – in its own warehouses, according to one source. In addition, there have been extensive preparations with the pharmaceutical industry to increase available reserves of about 4,000 medicines, which are also stored in Ireland.

The Government is happy that it has “a couple of months’ supply on average” for most drugs, said one person who has been briefed on the subject.

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