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No-deal Brexit could put UK at greater risk from falsifed medicines, HDA director tells MPs

The executive director of the Healthcare Distribution Association has told MPs on the Exiting the European Union Committee that a no-deal Brexit would make medicines in the UK “less safe”.

Martin Sawer, director of the Healthcare Distrbution Agency

Source: Healthcare Distribution Agency

Leaving the EU without a deal risks making medicines in the UK less safe, according to Martin Sawer, executive director of the Healthcare Distrbution Agency

Leaving the EU without a deal would likely result in the UK being “unplugged” from the Falsified Medicines Directive (FMD), Martin Sawer, executive director of the Healthcare Distribution Association (HAD), has told a select committee of MPs.  

Speaking to the Exiting the European Union Committee at an evidence session held on 19 June 2019, Sawer said: “We could be unplugged from [the FMD] on 1 November [2019] because we’d have no access to the EU database that is based throughout the 28 countries”.  

As a consequence, he added, “medicines in the UK, we believe, would be less safe”.

“There’s evidence already of organised crime trying to get into the regular prescription market. They’ve already picked up some packets though this new [FMD] system in Holland.” 

Sawer also explained that, in the event of a no-deal Brexit, he “would expect medicines shortages and a lot of price rises for the NHS to happen pretty quickly — and some shortages in most constituencies around the UK”. 

“We would expect some critical shortages — probably in the lower-value medicines, not the everyday ones that are stockpiled,” he added.

“The generics market is likely to be more volatile … because if the prices are too low, the manufacturers will not supply them to the UK.”

But he added that he “can’t criticise the preparation that the Department [of Health and Social Care (DHSC)] has done”, stating that the HDA was talking to the DHSC and the NHS on a weekly basis.

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2019.20206697

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