Belfast Telegraph

No medicine shortages in Ireland related to Brexit, says minister

Simon Harris says the medicines situation is continually monitored.

Medicines (Ben Birchall/PA)
Medicines (Ben Birchall/PA)

By Aoife Moore, PA

There have been no medicine shortages related to Brexit identified by Irish pharmaceutical bodies, Simon Harris has confirmed.

The Minister for Health, speaking on Thursday after meeting officials from the Department of Health’s Primary Care Division, the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA), and the Health Service Executive (HSE), said the situation is continually monitored and there is no current shortage of medicine related to the UK’s departure from the EU.

He said: “It’s very important that we tell citizens, when it comes to monitoring the situation, that it won’t end on the 31st of October, deal or no deal. This will continue to require ongoing vigilance as we make sure that the alternative supply routes are in place and continue to look at emergency contingency arrangements.”

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Simon Harris (Niall Carson/PA)

Some medicines, including those used to treat certain cancers, have a short shelf life and cannot be stockpiled, which has caused concern that care could be affected if supply routes are disrupted.

Delays at ports are expected post-Brexit as traders and customs officials adjust to the trade barriers between the UK and EU.

“In our health system, we generally have a number of weeks of stock built up, and industry and the state are satisfied that that is sufficient stock to deal with any potential issues in terms of delays that could happen in ports and other places.

“We should be aware Brexit is a permanent state of change and therefore will require constant and ongoing vigilance.

The extraordinarily dedicated unit of people in my department, the HSE and HPRA would much rather be talking to me about other issues. We're spending so much of our time preparing for Brexit Simon Harris

“Our citizens should follow the advice from the HSE and Department of Health that there is no requirement to stockpile, which would have unintended consequences where you disrupt the normal supply chain, and I’m satisfied in that regard that people have been following that advice.

“We’re still considering whether we want to put further contingency measures in place, by way of air, and keeping that under close review, but we’re not aware of any delay in relation to that.

“The 31st of October is just a date in a calendar, it’ll be one day, and if Brexit happens there will be many more days after that and we will need to continue to be vigilant.

“The difficulty of a delay at a port or the like, we have enough of a supply, that we’ll have enough to keep going until they’re through that delay.”

Mr Harris added that the “opportunity cost” of Brexit to the state has been “massive”.

“The extraordinarily dedicated unit of people in my department, the HSE and HPRA would much rather be talking to me about other issues. We’re spending so much of our time preparing for Brexit.

“The opportunity cost of Brexit to Government and our citizens, in terms of a programme of work we’d rather be doing, is very clear, but having said that, Brexit is and must be national priority one, two and three.”

PA

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