NI Protocol: UK and EU must remove all medicines from protocol threat as litmus test of sincerity, says peer

UUP Peer Lord Empey has called for medicines to be removed immediately from the scope of the NI Protocol on humanitarian grounds, describing the issue of medicine supply to Northern Ireland as “a litmus test of the sincerity of both the UK Government and the EU”.

Friday, 24th September 2021, 4:16 pm
Updated Friday, 24th September 2021, 5:49 pm
Over 900 medicines are to be withdrawn with a further 2,400 at risk.

The health minister has warned of a risk to patients if pharmaceutical firms go ahead with plans to withdraw medicines due to the Northern Ireland Protocol. The health department has been notified 910 medicines are due to be withdrawn with a further 2,400 at risk.

Lord Empey said: “The people of Northern Ireland have had lots of words from both the UK Government and the EU on how they are working to find ‘solutions’ to the problems created by the Protocol. What we now need are actions and the issue of medicine supply to Northern Ireland will be a litmus test of the sincerity of both the UK Government and the EU.

“While the quest for a replacement of the Protocol must continue, I appeal, on humanitarian grounds, that a decision is made now to remove medicines from its scope before more unnecessary damage is inflicted.”

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He said that medicines currently fall under EU rules in Northern Ireland and any products coming from usual suppliers will, after the end of this year, have to go through a rigorous and expensive certification process.

It is “astonishing” that part of the developed western world are being told that medicines that they have traditionally relied on may no longer be available after the end of 2021, he said. “If the EU and UK Governments are serious in wanting to resolve this matter they should immediately remove medicines from the scope of the Protocol and bring an end to this self-inflicted crisis.”