The government today confirmed new restrictions which ban wholesalers from ‘parallel exporting’ of some medicines.
It would stop wholesalers from buying medicines meant for UK patients and selling them on for a higher price in another country, potentially causing supply problems.
The new move is part of the government’s attempt to prevent medicine shortages before Brexit. The export ban will be effective from the early hours on on Friday.
The restrictions are applicable to 23 types of medications including all variations of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) products, all adrenalin auto-injectors, hepatitis B vaccines, Estradiol, Levonorgestrel and Progesterone.
In a letter to the wholesalers, the Department of Health and Social Care today said it was working closely with affected suppliers to monitor the situation and reduce the potential impact on patients.
Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said the new measure would help the government to ensure patients are getting the medicines they need and high-quality care.
“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,” Hancock said.
The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), which earlier called for a restriction on parallel exports, welcomed the latest announcement.
“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,” said Dr Rick Greville, director of supply chain at the ABPI.
The Association urged drug companies to work with the health department to identify any problem areas.
Robbie Turner, Director of Pharmacy and Member Experience, Royal Pharmaceutical Society called the export ban “a step in the right direction.”
“If we have medicines in the UK, that are intended for patients in the UK, it’s right that we try our hardest to ensure those medicines remain in the country,” Turner said.
Any manufacturer or wholesaler found guilty of parallel exporting of one or more of the listed medicines could face immediate licence suspension.