No-deal EU Exit
The UK will be leaving the EU on 29 March 2019 and this may have an impact on how quickly medicines can come in and out of the UK. The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has been working closely with trade bodies, product suppliers, the health and care system in England, the devolved administrations and crown dependencies (the Isle of Man, Jersey and Guernsey) to make detailed plans to protect patients against potential medicine supply chain issues in the event of a no-deal EU Exit.
The fear for some is that vital medicines and medical supplies may become temporarily unavailable. PSC Support has been campaigning to ensure medicine supplies for PSC patients and those on clinical trials are not interrupted. The DHSC has put in place a range of measures to minimise disruption, including stockpiling and warehousing of supplies, additional transport options and making changes to regulatory requirements so companies can continue to sell their products in the UK.
On 25 February, Stephen Hammond (Minister of State for Health) said there was no evidence to suggest that the risks would be increased as a result of the EU Exit but a range of measures have been put in place giving him confidence that medicine supplies would not be uninterrupted.
He said, ‘Local stockpiling is unnecessary and could cause shortages in other areas, which could put patient care at risk. It is important that patients order their repeat prescriptions as normal and keep taking their medicines as normal.’
What if there is a shortage?
You might be offered an alternative medicine
If your medicine is in short supply, you may be offered an alternative to your usual medicine, either a different brand or a different medicine that has the same clinical effect. This is normal NHS practice in the event of the shortage of a particular medicine and most of us have experienced this at some time or another. However, if you are a liver transplant patient, you must not switch immunosuppressants without prior agreement from your doctor.
Liver transplant patients
For post transplant patients, maintaining the supply of your usual immunosuppressants is important, and these medicines should not be changed without the prior agreement from your doctor. PSC Support spoke to the British Liver Transplant Group on 25 February 2019 which advised that increased problems obtaining your usual immunosuppressants were unlikely, but if you do have any issues, to let the doctor who prescribes them know, rather than enquire with other pharmacists near you. Hospitals hold immunosuppressant supplies centrally and your prescriber is the best person to help ensure you get the right medicine on time.
What should I do about medicines now?
Although we do not anticipate problems getting medicines, we do advise that you keep on top of your repeat prescriptions, and order them well in advance. Don’t leave ordering or collecting them to the last minute. This is good practice at the best of times, but especially now.
- Keep taking your medicines as normal.
- Order your repeat prescriptions in good time - don’t leave it until the last minute! Note that GPs are not allowed to prescribe extra medicine or authorise early repeat prescription requests.
- Do not order more medicines than normal. If you do, then it may mean that other people won't be able to get their medicines.