“Apparently because of Brexit the supply of my tablets is low”

Yesterday, Brent Lib Dems’ chair Anton Georgiou got a text from his sister.

She has Epilepsy which is controlled by taking six tablets a day.

She had gone to the pharmacy to put in a prescription.

Here’s her text, reproduced with her’s and Anton’s permission:

This is the reality of what people are living with.

Problems with supply chains for medicines aren’t confined to Brexit and they are quite common. You can see some of the issues here on Epilepsy Action’s Drugwatch

Brexit, deal or not, puts added complications into the mix. This article cites problems coming from a weak pound against a strong Euro, so it is clear that Brexit is already having a detrimental impact.

Anton’s sister has been told by her pharmacist that they are having trouble getting the medicine on which she depends because of Brexit.

That should make us all think very carefully about whether we want to continue along this clearly blighted path.

At the very least, we should be given the choice with all the relevant information.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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10 Comments

  • Peter Martin 31st Jan '19 - 4:19pm

    @ William Fowler,

    “Only way out of this is higher interest rates and lower govn spending to move Sterling back to more normal levels…….”

    What’s “normal” ?

    The Government should arguably have a policy on the sterling exchange rate. If it’s too low, the UK is a less attractive market to overseas exporters ( as you have explained above) and, conversely, overseas is a more attractive market for UK exporters.

    So we could define ‘normal’ as the level sterling needs to be for exports and imports to equally balance.

    Is this what you have in mind?

    If so, by your own argument, we might need a combination of lower interest rates and higher govt spending 🙂

  • marcstevens 31st Jan '19 - 7:03pm

    I don’t call it scaremongering I just call it the new reality. An appointment I had with my nurse at the GP has been delayed as they are unable to get hold of a product from Europe. I dread to think what will happen with people with very serious long term health conditions or diseases like the person above if they are unable to get their medication in a timely way.

  • A worry, many of us rely on drugs. Looking round the internet there does appear to be an issue with drug supplies, but this isn’t a UK issue it appears to be world wide.

    Interesting point of view on the matter

    Meanwhile, former Liberal Democrat MP Sandra Gidley argues that blaming Brexit for dwindling supplies is a red herring, telling the BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that shortages “have been a problem for some years”.

    “The situation with Brexit is that the Government have recognised that there could be potential supply problems and they have been asking manufacturers to keep in a buffer stock so that if there are freight problems, trouble with customs, patients will still get their drugs,” Gidley said.

    https://www.theweek.co.uk/brexit/99058/pharmacists-warn-of-shortages-of-commonly-prescribed-drugs

    an alternative view is

    But Gareth Jones, of the National Pharmacy Association, thought while patients were not panicking, “unconscious stockpiling” along the supply chain appeared to be a “significant factor”.

    Martin Sawer, of the Healthcare Distribution Association, which circulates 92% of medicines in the UK, said some businesses could be “speculating on Brexit” – investing in stock in order to make money from it later.

    “That’s the nature of the market,” he said.

    https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-46843631

  • These supply chain problems are a genuine and growing concern for anyone (including myself) who relies on prescribed medication and/or medical devices. I too have recently experienced prolonged delay in obtaining an essential repeat prescription item.

    Whatever the various cause(s) of these problems, they cannot be helped by the increased uncertainty and complications surrounding Brexit – and, in particular, by the continuing risk of a “no deal” outcome on 29 March for which I fear that the U.K. is inadequately prepared.

  • There will be many problems because we have a Prime Minister who has a plan which she is sticking to. The plan is to keep some of the beneficial trade arrangements with Europe but to avoid telling people in the U.K. or I assume anywhere else what her plan is. Next stage which we are in the middle of is to leave parliament no choice but to agree her plan or face chaos in simply leaving the EU without any obvious plans. This is causing great concern to those conducting trade, but is great for speculators.
    The evidence for all of this is overwhelming. Why aren’t our MPs talking about the reality?

  • bernard Aris 5th Feb '19 - 4:35am

    The Dutch health system with its price controls on often used medicines is being blamed for a growing number of very popular medicines (especially the most used type/brand of contraception pill for women) not being available for months on end in Dutch pharmacies these days.
    I hink both the NHS (with if I’m not mistaken NICE or another institute as arbiter) and the Dutch system (with the big health insurers and Dutch government as arbiters) have stringent price control systems, which make our Dutch & British markets less attractive for Big Pharma.
    But Brexit with its big logistical, warehousing and just-in-time delivery problems is apt, if not certain to make medicine availability in the UK an even greater problem than it is now.
    Something Theresa May, being a diabetic herself, knows can lead to serious problems if the supply dries up locally. Did she think medicine delivery would be magically, uniquely exempt from all other goods (necessities or not)?
    The Health Department announcing they’ll be using freight airplanes from (of all the cities on the ccontinent) Maastricht has an element of irony in that respect.

  • Chris Adams 6th Feb '19 - 11:33am

    Anton’s sister should consider getting in touch with the pharmaceutical company which produces her medicine, and letting them know that she’s been told this by a pharmacist – and ideally where. Although there’s no guarantees it will help, it could do – the company at the very least will then know what’s going on and may be able to help increase supplies ahead of Brexit. Either way they should be stockpiling them.

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