Hard Brexit ‘would mean increased medicine costs’

Patients will have to bear the cost of increased administrative fees for medicines in the event of a hard Brexit, a body representing the sector has said.

Medicines for Ireland, a body with the country’s largest suppliers of medicines to the HSE, said Brexit could have severe monetary as well as social costs.

Joint chair of the body, and general manager of Teva Pharmaceuticals Ireland, Sandra Gannon will speak at a health products Brexit stakeholder event today, where she will outline what the group calls “the risk to patients and to the pharmaceutical manufacturing industry” if a hard Brexit occurs.

Medicines for Ireland claims border delays due to more rigid custom controls would “pose a risk to short life and temperature controlled medicine products and increase patient waiting times where emergency supplies of medicines may be required”.

It said custom controls between the Republic, Northern Ireland and Britain would also add to the “administrative burden of importing medicines into Ireland”, thereby increasing the cost of medicines for the health service and patients.

It also claimed Ireland may no longer be seen as an attractive export market for UK medicines manufacturers, which could “exacerbate the existing problem of medicines shortage in Ireland”.

Ms Gannon said the worst-case scenario would be if the UK opts for a Swiss model, leaving the European Economic Area — which includes EU and countries such as Norway and Iceland —- and the customs union.

“If the UK adopts a different set of standards, the industry in Ireland will be hard-pressed to meet two separate regulatory regimes,” she said.

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