As European Union (EU) trade deals are now confirmed, people with diabetes will learn about how Brexit might impact receiving their medication and insulin.

How could Brexit affect diabetes medication?

Although the UK is no longer officially part of the EU, the country is currently in a transition period which means fine details are still being discussed. At the moment how we trade insulin and other medicines with the EU is still being negotiated.

This transition period will end on 31 December 2020 and if an agreement had not been reached, then the default position of a no-deal Brexit would have come into force on 1 January 2021. If this happened then it could mean the process of trading medication with the EU would become complicated which may impact insulin supplies into the UK.

We will continue to monitor this issue and keep you informed of any developments.

What is being done?

According to the Department for Health and Social Care, the Government has been working on trying to find a mutual agreement with the EU on medicines.

It is thought that the three main insulin suppliers, Lilly, Sanofi and Novo Nordisk, have kept at least six weeks stock of insulin in the UK to reduce potential disruption.

Other diabetes medicines

The Government is urging other pharmaceutical companies that supply diabetes medications to also retain stocks just in case a disruption should occur. This is to ensure most people have access to their medication should a no-deal Brexit go through.

However, many diabetes medicines are made by UK companies so it is unlikely there will be any disruption for them.

In the meantime, people who use insulin or other diabetes medicines can contact their GP and order repeat prescriptions at least 14 days before collection. There is no need to stockpile though as this could put other people at risk if they are unable to access the treatment they require.

What about diabetes technology?

The Department of Health and Social Care has confirmed that medical devices, which include diabetes technologies, are also included in the planning for both a deal and no-deal outcome.

Good news for those who use the Abbott FreeStyle Libre as that is made in the UK, so therefore should not be affected. Likewise, digital interventions like Low Carb Program are manufactured in the UK.

For those who use pumps or a continuous glucose monitor we recommend keeping a back-up supply of pen needles, lancets and test strips just in case there is a delay in those parts coming into the country.

Healthcare abroad 

After 31 December, the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) can no longer be used when abroad in the EU so we recommend ensuring you have travel insurance that fully when travelling overseas.

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