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Pharmaceutical companies are building up stockpiles of medicines to supply Northern Ireland due to widespread industry uncertainty over whether medicines will be allowed to move smoothly across the Irish Sea after Brexit.
With less than three months until the Brexit transition period ends, the companies say they “just do not know” whether medicines crossing the Irish Sea will have to undergo costly and time-consuming checks, Chief Executive of The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, Richard Torbett, told Business Insider.
“There is a lot of stockpiling going on specifically for the Northern Irish market,” Torbett told Insider. “It’s not necessarily happening in Northern Ireland, but it is for the Northern Irish market.”
The industry is still waiting for clarity over whether checks will be required on medicines heading to Northern Ireland from Great Britain, where the province gets the vast majority of its medicine.
“We just don’t know how it’ll work in Northern Ireland,” Torbett said. “We have no idea whether there is an expectation for Northern Ireland to be connected through the EU database or not, or what should be on a pack of medicines.”
The ABPI are calling on Boris Johnson’s government and the European Union to quickly reach an agreement that would allow medicines to continue to move seamlessly from Great Britain to Northern Ireland from January 1, 2021.
How the movement of medicine across the UK will be impacted is just one several questions to arise from the Northern Ireland protocol agreed as part of the Brexit Withdrawal Agreement last year.
From January, Northern Ireland will continue to follow EU trade rules in order to avoid a hard border with the Republic of Ireland, while the rest of the UK will break away.
Northern Ireland will continue in the EU’s falsified medicines directive (FMD) from next year, whereas Great Britain will not. The directive is designed to stop fraudulent medicines entering the the EU market and requires manufacturers to put a barcode on each of their products and log product information in a European database.
“It’s not clear yet what importation rules products will have to follow,” Torbett told Business Insider.
“Products will be going from Great Britain into a territory which in principle is required by the protocol to be adherent to EU regulations… We don’t know what the implications of that are. Until we have legal certainty that says absolutely this is how it’s going to be, then companies really aren’t able to plan and adjust production lines.”
Torbett warned that “testing infrastructure doesn’t exist in Northern Ireland” to carry out EU checks on medicines entering the province and that “there’s no way anyone would build it unless they had legal certainty that it is required.”
He stressed that patients in Northern Ireland should not panic amid the uncertainty, telling Business Insider “companies are bending over backwards to do everything they possibly can to plan for a no-deal” and “when there’s a will to get medicines, there’s a way and I do believe there will be goodwill and pragmatism on both sides.”
The ABPI is …read more
Source:: Businessinsider – Politics