The Government has reacted to concerns of product shortages by banning the export of certain drugs where this may be an issue.
Products listed include hormone replacement therapy drugs, adrenaline pens, vaccines and contraceptives. The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has provided a list of the products affected here.
Drug shortages arise for various reasons, one being parallel trade to markets with more favourable commercial conditions. The timing of this announcement may allay one risk of Brexit disrupting supplies, though Brexit has not been cited as the reason for the move.
While the UK has not previously used such measures, other countries have banned exports of certain products at times of need.
The Health and Social Care Secretary said:
“I know how distressing medicine shortages can be for those who rely on drugs like HRT and it’s absolutely crucial patients can always access safe and effective treatments through the NHS.
“The new measures we’re introducing today will help us ensure patients get the medicines they need and the high-quality care they deserve.
“Helping the NHS is a priority for this government, and people should be fully reassured that we will always act to ensure that there is an adequate supply of the medicine you need.”
In a letter, sent to licence holders, DHSC explained the criteria for a product’s inclusion on the list. The medicine must be:
- required to meet the needs of UK patients
- parallel exported or at risk of being parallel exported
- where the act of exporting the medicine could contribute to a UK shortage
The Director of Supply Chain at the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), Dr Rick Greville, said:
“The decision to take precautionary measures to protect medicines supplies will be very much welcomed by our members.
“It means that these stockpiles of medicines which companies have built over previous months are better protected and available for use only by the NHS patients for which they were intended.
“Companies can now work with the department to identify any problem areas.”
Read the Government announcement here.