Government considers increasing power of pharmacists if a medicines shortage occurs

Jack Woodfield
Thu, 13 Dec 2018
Government considers increasing power of pharmacists if a medicines shortage occurs
The government is considering introducing a measure to "provide an alternative" should there be a medicines shortage in event of a 'no-deal' Brexit, The Times reports.

There has been extensive coverage over what a prospective no-deal Brexit could mean for people with diabetes, with reports circulating over potential insulin shortages, and medicine providers announcing stockpile measures.

Given the current political climate, it is unknown what impact a no-deal Brexit could really have, but this report indicates that plans are in place to limit any potential discomfort experienced.

In a leaked memo from the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), obtained by The Times, pharmacists could overrule GP prescriptions and supply patients with alternative drugs if there is a shortage of certain medications. The memo did not detail which medicines may be affected, however.

In a subsequent statement, a DHSC spokesman said: "We are consulting on the introduction of a strict protocol, which would be developed in collaboration with doctors, to allow our highly-trained pharmacists to provide an appropriate alternative should there be a shortage of certain types of medicines."

The decision has received a mixed reception by the British Medical Association (BMA). BMA GP Committee chair Dr Richard Vautrey called the situation "very concerning", while BMA sessional GP subcommittee chair Dr Zoe Norris said the new proposals could save GPs time.

Both the BMA and the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) have backed a second Brexit referendum, and the RCGP issued a statement opposing Brexit last month.

Novo Nordisk and Sanofi have both pledged to hold 16 and 14 weeks of medication respectively in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
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