Brexit – Medication Update

Epilepsy Scotland, along with several other charities, met with the Scottish Government’s Head of Medicine Policy and Principal Pharmaceutical Officer to go over plans to ensure the supply of medications in the event of a no deal Brexit.

We were advised that a substantial stockpile exists of various medications and procedures are in place to prioritise medications getting into the UK in the event of no deal Brexit. The Scottish Government has been working closely with the UK government and pharmaceutical suppliers.

Therefore, have developed a Medicines Shortage Response Group (MRSG). This will use specialist clinical expertise to analyse and act upon any serious shortages.

New legislation, will see Serious Shortage Protocols implemented in the event of significant shortages. The agreed protocols will see a pharmacist swap a brand of medication in the event of a shortage, which will only be used in exceptional circumstances.

The Scottish Government said that this will follow a robust clinical process involving the Department of Health and the MRSG. Also, they will seek specialist clinical expertise via the Chief Medical Officer on what medication can be substituted.

Shortage Protocols

The Scottish Government has assured us that epilepsy will be exempt from any Serious Shortages Protocols.

Alison Strath, the Principle Pharmaceutical Officer to the Scottish Government said, “These serious shortage protocols will not be suitable for all medicines and patients. These will include medicines for epilepsy.

“In these cases, patients will always be referred back to the prescriber for any decision about their treatment.”

It is pleasing that epilepsy is one of the conditions exempt from this protocol. For example, swapping brands of medication can have devastating effects on someone’s seizure control. However, these measures put in place will ensure this will not happen under a no deal Brexit.

The Department for Health and Social Care has advised that they may develop protocols. This will allow pharmacists to provide a lesser quantity of an epilepsy medicine.

For example, in order to manage demand. They could restrict the supply of 56 tablets to 28 to allow time to secure additional stock in the UK.  However, they will not use protocols to substitute a therapeutic or generic equivalent (ie changing the medicine).

If any significant shortages of epilepsy drugs do develop, the Scottish Government will work with suppliers to quickly secure stocks from other countries, for example by air freight.