RPS president Sandra Gidley

The Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS) has called on the government to take immediate action to prevent counterfeit medicines entering the medicines supply chain following the UK’s exit from the European Union after the end of the transition period on Dec 31.

In a letter to health secretary Matt Hancock, the RPS stressed the need for robust plans to be put in place to maintain formal links with the EU to help authenticate the legitimacy of medicines that move between the EU and the UK. The issues have been raised ahead of the European Council’s deliberations on the future relationship between the EU and the UK.

Under current plans to leave the EU later this year, the UK will cease to benefit from the provisions of the Falsified Medicines Directive (FMD) which ensures that medicines in the EU are legitimate, safe and of high quality.

RPS is concerned that removal of these safeguards could leave the UK vulnerable to an influx of counterfeit medicines, impacting on patient care in the UK and across the EU.

“It is unacceptable that in the final months of the Brexit transition period, robust plans have not been put in place to prevent falsified or counterfeit medicines entering the UK,” RPS president Sandra Gidley said, commenting on the issue.

“With 45 million packs of medicines moving between the UK and the EU every month, this is a critical issue for patient safety in the UK and every European country.”

She said in the letter to the government the RPS has “emphasised” the importance of urgently establishing technical agreements with the EU in the fight against counterfeit medicines.

“We have made it clear that the ideal way forward is for continuity of the provisions of the Falsified Medicines Directive, enabling ongoing connectivity between the UK and Europe.

“Not only will this help to provide assurances to patients about the safety of their medicines but it will also ensure the UK can continue to benefit from the significant investment made by the NHS, pharmacy organisations and individual pharmacy owners in the infrastructure for FMD.”

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