Tomorrow sees the launch of a new Europe-wide safe medicines system, but the UK could be forced to leave it within weeks in the event of a no-deal Brexit, says the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry. Anna Tobin reports
A Europe-wide initiative dubbed the safest medicines system in the world, goes live 9 February. This new technology is designed to protect patients and public health from falsified or fake medicines and to make the European medical supply chain safer than ever before. It will mean that from the moment the medicine leaves the production line to the point it reaches the patient, every person and organisation it has come into contact with can verify and authenticate the pack. Each medicine will also feature new safety features so that it should be very easy to see if it has been tampered with.
A no-deal Brexit, however, could force the UK out of the system, which it was instrumental in developing, soon after it has launched. The Falsified Medicines Directive (FMD) is the EU regulation that enabled this Europe-wide system. The UK has contributed to the development of the FMD, and over the last two years pharmaceutical companies and other partners, have helped fund and set up the system in the UK. In the event of the UK leaving the EU without a Withdrawal Agreement in place, the UK would be revoked from the FMD legislation.
“Billions of packs of medicines travel around the EU annually, destined for over 500 million patients. This new system means that patients across Europe will have the best protection from fake medicines in the world,” says Dr Rick Greville, director of supply chain at the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, a trade association representing branded medicines manufactures in the UK. “It would be an absolute travesty if NHS patients aren’t part of a system specifically designed to protect them. But that’s exactly what could happen in a ‘no deal’ Brexit. It is just another reason why we urgently need a Brexit deal.”
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