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The National Pharmacy Association has urged the government to apply “robust mitigation” to the medicines supply chain to avoid shortages in Northern Ireland.

The chair of the NPA, Andrew Lane, has written to minister for the Cabinet Office Michael Gove to express concerns over the impact of the Brexit withdrawal agreement and the Northern Ireland protocol on the medicines supply chain in the country.

In a letter sent to the minister on October 27, Lane said the requirement for Northern Ireland to continue to comply with EU medicines regulations that will no longer apply in the UK (which is the main source of supply) would distort the medicines supply chain.

He warns that the additional cost and complexity of getting medicines into Northern Ireland could result in some manufacturers not bringing products to the market. This, in turn, could lead to medicines shortages and an increase in procurement costs.

Without a clear plan on a transition from the UK-wide system into one that serves only Northern Ireland, it is likely that manufacturers of medicines, particularly generic medicines, will simply stop producing packs that meet the requirements for supply in Northern Ireland, Lane predicts in his letter.

The NPA is urging the UK government to apply robust mitigation to the medicines supply chain from December 31, 2020 for a period of at least 18 months, to allow the supply chain to adapt to Brexit-related changes.

Earlier this month, the UK Community Pharmacy Falsified Medicine Directive Working Group called on the government in Westminster to protect the supply of medicines into Northern Ireland following the end of the Brexit transition period.

The working group consists of the national organisations representing community pharmacy across the UK.

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