Warning that NI Protocol will block 2,000 generic drugs from NI
A block on 2,000 generic medicines entering Northern Ireland when the NI Protocol grace period expires will “put people’s health at risk,” the DUP has claimed.
The party’s health spokesperson, Pam Cameron, made the claim after a medicines trade body told the Department of Health in London they will be unable to deliver around 2,000 medicines currently offered to patients after December.
The British Generic Manufacturers Association (BGMA) said the issue was the cost and complexity of duplicating regulatory procedures solely for the NI market, as drugs made in GB for use in Northern Ireland will have to be licensed separately and have to undergo additional safety inspections.
This will result in further laboratory testing and a requirement for additional warehouse space, the BGMA said.
The association’s chief executive, Mark Samuels, said: “These steps have been taken with the utmost reluctance but our members are being forced into an impossible position. We need all parties to set aside the politics of Brexit and put patients first.
“Four out of five drugs used by the NHS are generic medicines, and this large scale exacerbates the supply chain complexity. Our industry delivers high volumes of medicines at low prices and with small commercial margins.
“It thrives on simplicity and efficiency but is now caught in a complicated situation with Northern Ireland – which under the Protocol is treated as part of the EU – requiring different medicines regulation rules to the rest of Great Britain.”
Mr Samuels added: “This situation threatens to prevent companies from supplying an identical product to Great Britain and Northern Ireland.”
Ms Cameron, the vice-chair of Stormont’s health committee, said: “It was notable that within a few hours of the UK Government’s proposals on Wednesday they were flatly rejected by the European Commission.
“Cheered on by some within Northern Ireland, their response to the clear and fundamental failures of the Northern Ireland Protocol is simply to demand even more rigid adherence to it.
“When the EU makes such a blanket rejection of proposals it demonstrates a willingness not only to use Northern Ireland to ‘punish’ the United Kingdom, but even to put the health of people in Northern Ireland at risk.”
Ms Cameron said that, despite a pledge by the European Union to work “at pace,” certain issues “remain at a standstill”.
Ms Cameron added: “The fact that Northern Ireland could be set to lose access to 2,000 medicines when the grace period expires in December is just the latest impact of the protocol and the lack of willingness by the EU to even countenance solutions which could remove the Irish Sea border.
“It’s time for the European Commission to accept that the protocol is unworkable and unsustainable. They need to accept reality before even more people in Northern Ireland suffer as a result.”
Earlier this week, the UK Government published a paper calling for most of the checks on goods moving from GB to NI to be removed.
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