Government recognises ‘very significant work’ by industry on Brexit planning

Posted on January, 30 - 2019

The Government has recognised the industry for “very significant work” in planning for Brexit.

At the Oireachtas Committee on Health on Wednesday, the Secretary General of the Department of Health, Jim Breslin, outlined the steps the health authorities, working with industry and other stakeholders, are taking to secure the supply of medicines to patients after Brexit.

He called out the industry for “very significant work” undertaken in planning for Brexit, saying it had “well-developed supply chains”.

The National Director of Acute Strategy and Planning at the HSE, John Hennessy, said preparations for Brexit had been multi-stakeholder, and planning was well advanced for continuity of the supply of medicines after the UK leaves the European Union on March 29th.

He said key risks in the short term relate to “potential disruption and delay to supply chains”.

“The key supply chain challenges in the short or immediate term are likely to be related to medicines with a short shelf life, refrigerated supply chains, compounded products and time critical logistics,” said Mr Hennessy.

The Government believes there are no immediate risks to health of the population due to Brexit. 

IPHA is taking part in a Brexit Stakeholder Event today, organised by the regulator, the HPRA, for manufacturers, distributors and marketing authorisation holders operating in Ireland or the UK. IPHA will be represented by Loretto Callaghan, General Manager of Novartis, who leads the IPHA Brexit Project Group.

Ireland has a critical reliance on the UK as a source of medicines. About 4,000 medicines are marketed in Ireland. Of these, between 60% and 70% come from, or pass through, the UK.

Continuity of supply of medicines is part of the standard day-to-day responsibility of pharmaceutical companies. It’s part of the deal IPHA has with the State on the supply of medicines. There is always two to three months’ supply of medicines in the system anyway. These stocks will help to absorb any short-term delays that could arise.

Bernard Mallee, IPHA’s Director of Communications and Advocacy, said: “Risks to the continued supply of medicines after Brexit can never be fully discounted. But, crucially, they can be managed. That’s what pharmaceutical innovators have been spending time and money doing. Companies have made complex logistical and supply chain arrangements, including in some cases re-routing transport away from the UK. This work is critical in minimising the risk of disruption to the supply of medicines to patients after March 29th.

“Whatever the outcome of the turbulent politics of Brexit, there is a need for unity of purpose when it comes to preparing for the practical implications of the UK’s decision to leave the European Union. Our industry, in working with the State on a joint response, is doing the right thing by patients.”