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Patients could be ‘seriously disadvantaged’ by no-deal Brexit

People with diabetes who use insulin – including the Prime Minister – could be affected.

Patients, including Theresa May who relies on insulin, could be “seriously disadvantaged” in the event of a no-deal Brexit, the chairman of the UK’s medicines regulator has warned.

Sir Michael Rawlins, of the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), said supplies of insulin and other medication which is not manufactured in the UK, may be disrupted in such a scenario.

The comments were made in an interview with the Pharmaceutical Journal, before the new Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock revealed officials are considering working with the industry to stockpile drugs.

The Prime Minister, who has Type 1 diabetes, has previously said she regularly injects with insulin to manage the condition.

It’s got to be sorted, no question. Sir Michael Rawlins

Speaking in an “personal capacity”, Sir Michael told the Pharmaceutical Journal: “There are problems, and the Department for Exiting the EU and the Department of Health and Social Care need to work out how it’s going to work.

“Here’s just one example why: We make no insulin in the UK. We import every drop of it.

“You can’t transport insulin around ordinarily because it must be temperature-controlled.”

Many diabetic people rely on insulin, Sir Michael said, “not least the Prime Minister”.

He added: “Disruption to the supply chain is one of the ways that patients could be seriously disadvantaged.

“It could be a reality if we don’t get our act together.

“We can’t suddenly start manufacturing insulin – it’s got to be sorted, no question.”

His comments came before Mr Hancock’s appearance at the Health Select Committee, in which he insisted he was “confident” a no-deal Brexit could be avoided but said it was “responsible” to prepare for a range of outcomes as Britain prepares to leave the EU.

This includes working up options with industry to stockpile drugs, medical devices and supplies if a deal cannot be reached, Mr Hancock said.

In a statement released on Friday, Sir Michael said: “As stated in the Pharmaceutical Journal article, my comments were made before the Secretary of State’s announcement earlier this week.

“As he made clear, the Government is preparing for any possible disruption to the supply chain of medical supplies in the unlikely event of no deal.

“This preparation includes vital medicines such as insulin.

“A responsible Government prepares for a range of outcomes, and the Department of Health and Social Care is working to make sure the health sector and industry are prepared and that people’s health will be safeguarded.”

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