NHS: Drugs

Department of Health and Social Care written question – answered on 30th April 2019.

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Photo of Stephen Lloyd Stephen Lloyd Independent, Eastbourne

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, what steps he is taking to ensure adequate supplies of treatments for (a) epilepsy and (b) bipolar disorder in all scenarios surrounding the UK's exit from the EU.

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

The Department fully understands that maintaining access to treatments for epilepsy and bipolar disorder is vitally important to many people in this country.

The Government remains committed to leaving the European Union with a deal. We have now reached agreement with the EU on an extension to the Article 50 period until 31 October at the latest, with the option to leave earlier as soon as a Withdrawal Agreement has been ratified.

Under the terms of the Withdrawal Agreement, there will be an implementation period running till the end of 2020, during which there will be no changes to the current trading arrangements with the EU. Therefore, if the Withdrawal Agreement is ratified, the supply of medicines will continue on the same basis it does now during this period.

Leaving without a deal remains the legal default at the end of the extension period if no Withdrawal Agreement is agreed. Therefore, as a responsible Government, we will continue to prepare to minimise any disruption to the supply of medicines and medical products in a potential ‘no deal’ scenario. We are considering what impact this longer extension may have on our EU exit preparations, and are working closely with our stakeholders to review our position.

While we never give guarantees, we are confident that if everyone does what they need to do, the supply of medicines and medical products including treatments for epilepsy and bipolar disorder should be uninterrupted in the event we leave the EU without a deal.

The Department has a long-established pharmacist-led team and dedicated processes to deal with medicine shortages, whatever the cause. This team works closely with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, the pharmaceutical industry, NHS England and others in the supply chain to help prevent shortages and to ensure that the risks to patients are minimised when they do arise.

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