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Brexit protocol red tape may stop 280 medicines coming to Northern Ireland

Letter from Lord Frost reveals ‘intolerable’ situation says UUP’s Alan Chambers

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Lord Frost

Lord Frost

The supply chain of almost 300 medicines between GB and NI may be disrupted from early 2020. Stock image

The supply chain of almost 300 medicines between GB and NI may be disrupted from early 2020. Stock image

Bloomberg

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Lord Frost

The UK Government has been formally notified of almost 300 medicines that will no longer be transported from Great Britain to Northern Ireland from the new year, according to Brexit Minister Lord Frost.

Industry leaders had warned that UK companies making non-branded drugs would make plans to withdraw medicines from the NI market due to post-Brexit red tape.

In a letter written by Lord Frost, he revealed that the Government has so far been alerted by suppliers that between 280 and 290 medicines will be discontinued here from January 1, 2022 when the grace period ends.

Under the NI Protocol — which creates a trade border down the Irish Sea — medicines made in mainland UK will have to be licensed separately for use here.

In addition, they will also undergo separate safety inspections and other checks before they can be released for patients in Northern Ireland.

The prospect of impending disruption to our supply chain of prescription medicines has been described as “intolerable” by UUP health spokesperson, Alan Chambers MLA.

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“Earlier this year under the NI Protocol we saw the EU move to limit the movement of certain types of goods and foodstuffs from Great Britain to Northern Ireland,” he said. 

"Now, also via the Protocol, the EU is seeking to restrict the movement of medicines from one part of the UK to another.”

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Lord Frost

Lord Frost

Lord Frost

He continued: “This is intolerable and a world away from claims of ‘the best of both worlds’ that some people and parties once promised us.

"It is also a salutary lesson for those who demanded the 'rigorous implementation' of the Protocol.”

Referring to the letter, which was sent by Lord Frost to Lord Jay, chairman of the EU Sub-Committee, Mr Chambers said it outlined that further products may no longer be supplied from early 2022, which are yet to be confirmed.

The Department of Health is currently in discussion with those suppliers, the letter states.

Mr Chambers added: “We have already witnessed the EU peddle the complete fiction that the Protocol is designed to protect the Belfast Agreement whilst simultaneously denying us the right to bring in goods from the rest of our own country.

"It would be insulting our intelligence for anyone to try to claim that denying us the right to bring in medicines from the rest of our own country is in any way protecting the Belfast Agreement.”

He said the UUP backed a solution contained within the recently published Government command paper which said that the simplest way forward may be to remove all medicines from the scope of the Protocol entirely.


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