Northern Ireland medicine supply under threat because of Brexit

There is a risk the price of medicines in Northern Ireland will increase when a 12 month grace period for pharmaceuticals ends on December 31, 2021, the Chief Pharmaceutical Officer for Northern Ireland, Cathy Harrison, has said.

Thursday, 15th April 2021, 12:26 pm
Updated Thursday, 15th April 2021, 12:28 pm

Chief Pharmaceutical Officer Harrison was answering questions from the Stormont health committee on Thursday morning when she made the comments.

Ms. Harrison told the committee that 98 per cent of all medicines and equipment sent to Northern Ireland comes here via mainland Britain.

Unlike the rest of the United Kingdom and as required by the Northern Ireland Protocol, medicines moving from mainland Britain into Northern Ireland from 2022 onward will require specific importation controls are administered in Northern Ireland or in a country in the European Economic Area (EEA).

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Fullarton Pharmacy in Belfast.

Ms. Harrison explained to the committee that as a result of the change there was a risk the £600m spent by Northern Ireland on medicines could increase.

"I think it's too early to provide categorical advice in terms of what the impact will be in terms product availability and price at the moment.

"They are both risks, definitely - companies could reduce their product ranges and prices could increase."

Ms. Harrison added: "I have to say, they are risks that exist without any mitigation and we are working actively with industry to maintain access to supplies and also equitable access for our citizens.

Chief Pharmaceutical Officer for Northern Ireland, Cathy Harrison.

"But yes, they are the sort of issues companies will be considering around product ranges and costs.

"Over the counter medicines will also be impacted by this."

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