Health bosses need to act urgently to ensure that a prospective no-deal Brexit does not affect insulin supply into the UK, the chair of the Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) has said.
Sir Michael Rawlins said officials must ensure the availability of insulin remains intact if the government fails to secure a Brexit deal with the European Union.
Insulin is not manufactured in the UK and therefore has to be imported. Commenters in recent weeks have raised concerns that a no-deal Brexit could affect millions of people with diabetes in the UK.
The MHRA is an executive agency of the Department of Health and Social Care and is responsible for ensuring medicines and medical devices work and are safe. Sir Michael, who was reappointed as MHRA chair in August 2017, told the Pharmaceutical Journal: “There are problems, and the Department for Exiting the EU and the Department of Health and Social Care need to work out how it’s going to work.
“Here’s just one example why: we make no insulin in the UK. We import every drop of it. You can’t transport insulin around ordinarily because it must be temperature-controlled.
“Disruption to the supply chain is one of the ways that patients could be seriously disadvantaged. It could be a reality if we don’t get our act together. We can’t suddenly start manufacturing insulin – it’s got to be sorted, no question.”
Sir Michael made the comments prior to new health secretary Matt Hancock announcing plans were in place to stockpile medications in case no trade agreement is agreed when the UK leaves the European Union on 29 March, 2019.
In a statement released on Friday, Sir Michael added: “A responsible government prepares for a range of outcomes, and the Department of Health and Social Care is working to make sure the health sector and industry are prepared and that people’s health will be safeguarded.”
Prime Minister Theresa May, who has type 1 diabetes, has said British citizens should “take reassurance and comfort” from the government’s plans to stockpile medication and food.
Around 70 ‘technical notices’ are due to be published by the government this summer in a bid to support businesses and people get ready for the prospect of a no-deal Brexit.

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