Friday 24 May 2019

Supplying medicines with short shelf-life 'will pose biggest challenge post-Brexit'

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Eilish O'Regan

Eilish O'Regan

The biggest challenge to the medicine supply from Brexit here will be products with a short shelf-life, items that need to be refrigerated, compounded medicines and others that are "time critical," according to health officials.

The preparations to protect health services here from the UK leaving the EU will be outlined by HSE and Department of Health officials at the Oireachtas Health Committee today.

Irish patients are guaranteed a six-month supply of vaccines when Brexit strikes and new agreements are being worked out with UK hospitals to allow children to still travel abroad for organ transplants, according to health officials.

John Hennessy, of the HSE, has promised there are already two to three months worth of vaccines stock and this will extend to six months when supplies held by drug companies are added.

A special HSE and Health Products Regulatory Authority group is liaising with hospitals and pharmacists to identify short, medium and long-term concerns about the supply of drugs but there will be challenges in certain areas.

Mr Hennessy says arrangements in relation to other specific areas of healthcare such as paediatric organ transplants are progressing and are being finalised with hospitals such as Great Ormond Street in London.

Department of Health secretary general Jim Breslin said he had a Brexit operations team.

"It is important to state while the department continues to monitor and seek assurances in a number of areas, our current analysis is that there are no immediate risks to health of the population because of Brexit," he said.

If there is a no-deal Brexit on March 29, it will be necessary to put in place legislation to enable necessary healthcare arrangements between Ireland and the UK. The common travel area should continue. It will mean Irish people can access emergency, routine and planned healthcare in the UK.

Legislation would allow the HSE to cover the cost of healthcare for a patient from Ireland which is provided in the UK under the same conditions as present.

This would apply where a treatment is not provided here and a person must travel to the UK for care.

Irish Independent

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