Brexit 'could mean higher medicine costs, and shortages'

Irish patients could face medicine shortages and price hikes as a result of Brexit, according to the body which represents the country's largest suppliers of medicines to the HSE.

Medicines for Ireland says Ireland may no longer be seen as an attractive export market for UK manufacturers due to our small market size.

The Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) is holding a 'Brexit stakeholder event' to discuss the impacts of Brexit.

Joint Chairperson of Medicines for Ireland and general manager of Teva Pharmaceuticals Ireland, Sandra Gannon said: "We don’t want disruption in the supply chain. We want to be able to continue to supply Irish patients with product.

"We need a discussion with the regulators and Department of Health to say here are the medicines at risk and what can we do to safeguard supply for patients.

"The last thing anyone wants is medicine shortages and patients not being able to get the medicines they need.

"The good news is with HPRA doing this event early gives all of us a chance to sit down and say we don’t know what Brexit looks like but here are the scenarios that could unfold. That hopefully will mean we're mitigating against ant shortages in the market."

The group added custom controls between the Republic, Northern Ireland and Britain would add to the “administrative burden of importing medicines into Ireland”, thereby increasing the cost of medicines for the health service and patients.

It also claimed Ireland may no longer be seen as an attractive export market for UK medicines manufacturers, which could “exacerbate the existing problem of medicines shortage in Ireland”.

Ms Gannon said the worst-case scenario would be if the UK opts for a Swiss model, leaving the European Economic Area - which includes EU and countries such as Norway and Iceland - and the customs union.

“If the UK adopts a different set of standards, the industry in Ireland will be hard-pressed to meet two separate regulatory regimes,” she said.

Additional reporting by Padraig Hoare.


KEYWORDS: Brexit

 

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