Brexit is now the talking point it’s impossible to avoid. Its impact on groceries, travel, NHS staff shortages and British-Irish border plans form part of the endless daily chatter and news programmes.
The potential for the impact on the availability of medicines has been in the spotlight, causing a lot of worry and concern. Here Ade Williams, Lead Pharmacist at Bedminster Pharmacy in Bristol, Pharmacist of the Year 2018, and the Royal Pharmaceutical Society’s Patient Champion, tells MT why there’s no need to panic:
‘The availability of medicines after Brexit is causing many patients concern. Will my medications be available after Brexit? Should I get an extra prescription to allow me to stockpile? Do I need to keep my expired medicines in case of any future shortages? Will I have access to refrigerated insulin after Brexit? All these are daily queries our patients ask the pharmacy team about. We can understand why people are worried: rumours of shortages and fake stories shared via social media feed a frenzy of panic.
‘Medicines do go out of stock from time to time – manufacturing process issues and problems sourcing raw materials are usually the cause. Community pharmacies working with prescribers, like GPs and hospital consultants, already work together to resolve these sorts of problems without the patient often ever being aware.
‘It is true to say that Brexit – and what form it takes – has supply chain implications on goods such as medicines. UK pharmacists and health service teams, along with our European health colleagues, have long been at work finding solutions to cope with any problems that may emerge. As friends, it is crucial that we ensure that the health and wellbeing of our populations remain protected by minimising medicine supply disruptions. This work is independent of the much talked about Brexit agreement
‘The Government has already instructed all pharmacies on the best ways to help manage stock and availability. The NHS collectively is working to make sure no additional pressure is created by any part of it stockpiling and over-ordering. UK medicine suppliers are holding extra stock ready to send out if required. While it is understandable that patients may be tempted to over-order and stockpile their own supply, this would not be helpful or appropriate: it would only add pressure on the availability of medicines for patients elsewhere.
‘Many are concerned that things may fall apart, but remember that your Community Pharmacy teams are very experienced at sourcing medications using different suppliers and manufacturers. We also have local plans to help us communicate across the NHS and work with each other. The Government has it in plan to give special powers to pharmacist to recommend and supply the best alternative medication without compromising care, should the need arise. This makes use of our expertise as the most experienced and qualified experts on appropriate and safe use of medicines. Many pharmacists are already independent prescribers so this is not such a big step. Do please remove any expired medications from your home and return to your local pharmacy for safe disposal.
‘Pharmacies are committed to making sure none of our patients become a Brexit victim. Never doubt our commitment to take care of you.’
If you at all concerned about your medication, please discuss with your local community pharmacist or your GP.