During a government consultation on the UK’s future exhaustion of intellectual property rights regime, the National Pharmacy Association highlighted several benefits of parallel trade.

In its written response to the consultation that ended on August 31, the NPA asked that any model that would be applied in the future continues to deliver the benefits of the current system.

It noted that parallel trade helped in ensuring supply to patients during medicines shortage and in reducing the price the NHS pays for a range of medicines.

Moreover, this system can ensure availability of a medicine that is subject to the full licensing process where no licensed alternative is available.

Helga Mangion, policy manager at the NPA, said: “On average, each pharmacy dispenses approximately 100,000 prescription items per year. Parallel importing of medicines has supported a safe and efficient medicine supply chain.

“This has contributed to the cost of medicines and supply to be lower than nearly any other major market in Europe, the United States or Canada.”

Citing 2017 estimates, she added: “competitive procurement of medicines by community pharmacies, including parallel imported products, has saved the English taxpayer more than £10bn over the past 10 year period.”

During a meeting with Amanda Solloway, minister for Science, Research and Innovation in July, the association had confirmed the existing benefits of parallel trade.

The NPA also highlighted risks of altering the regime too quickly for the medicines supply chain to maintain supply.

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