Radioisotopes

Department of Health and Social Care written question – answered on 11th October 2018.

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Photo of Tim Farron Tim Farron Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what assessment he has made of the potential effect of not having consistent and timely access to radioisotopes on the UK's ability to deliver radiotherapy for cancer patients.

Photo of Tim Farron Tim Farron Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what recent assessment he has made of the effect on radiotherapy services for cancer patients of changes to the level of access to radioisotopes by the NHS.

Photo of Tim Farron Tim Farron Liberal Democrat Spokesperson (Environment, Food and Rural Affairs)

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what plans he has made to ensure consistent and timely access to radioisotopes in the event the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

Photo of Stephen Barclay Stephen Barclay Minister of State (Department of Health and Social Care)

Medical radioisotopes are essential in the effective treatment of many cancer patients and the Government believes it is vital to ensure consistent and timely access to these products for United Kingdom patients.

As a responsible Government, we continue to prepare proportionately for all European Union exit scenarios, including the possible outcome that we leave the EU without any deal in March 2019. That is why on 23 August the Government announced details of its approach to no deal EU exit medicines contingency planning.

Since writing to pharmaceutical companies, we have received good engagement from the industry who share our aims of ensuring patients maintain continuity of medicines supply. The Department continues to work closely with these companies to ensure that their UK supplies of medicines, including for cancer patients, are sufficient to cope with any potential delays at the border that may arise in the short term from the possible event of a no-deal Brexit.

We recognise that medical radioisotopes and some other medicinal products have short shelf lives and cannot be stockpiled. Where such products are at present imported to the UK from the EU/European Union Economic Area (EEA) via road haulage and roll-on, roll-off sea, road and rail routes, the Department is asking suppliers to ensure they have plans in place to air freight those products to avoid any border delays that may arise at the end of March next year in the event of a no deal exit from the EU. We will consider how the Department may support suppliers in making arrangements to meet this expectation.

The Government has also provided information to the public and Parliament on the likely impact of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU and Euratom on the importation of radioisotopes for medical use in the possible event that the UK leaves the EU without agreement, via a series of Technical Notices. Within these, the Government confirmed that in order to ensure continuity of supply in medicines, the UK will continue to accept batch testing of human medicines carried out in EU countries, other EEA countries and those third countries with which the EU has a Mutual Recognition Agreement.

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