Farm Ireland
Independent.ie

Thursday 26 April 2018

Packaging issues could give rise to veterinary medicine shortages after Brexit

Veterinary Ireland has been looking at the issue of medicine access for some time.
Veterinary Ireland has been looking at the issue of medicine access for some time.

Eoghan MacConnell

Former Veterinary Ireland President John V O’Connor has expressed concern that packaging issues could give rise to veterinary medicine shortages after Brexit.

He explained that Ireland, unlike some other small European countries, has benefited as a result of the UK’s close proximity and its shared language.

“Potentially more than 50% of our medicines are joint packaging,” he said. While concerns have also been raised about medicine licensing for Ireland post Brexit, Mr O’Connor believes, “licensing should be less of an issue because a lot of it is European licensing.” 

He explained that new European Regulations are being drafted in relation to medicine packaging and he believes it is vital they are completed before Britain leaves the EU.  

As Ireland is a relatively small market, there is a fear that some manufacturers won’t view it as viable to produce packaging specifically for the Irish market. 

However, he said, if new regulations are accepted by the UK before they leave the EU both nations will be “pretty much” aligned. “If the regulation comes into place before the UK leaves, they leave with the same as the rest of us and that’s great,” he remarked.  

The issue of post Brexit access to medicines was raised at a meeting in Co Laois last week.  Vice President of the European Parliament, MEP Mairead McGuinness indicated that Brexit could cause difficulties for the pharmaceutical trade. 

She was responding to a question from a pharmacists who said, “what was flagged during the week was that we could be facing a medication shortage crisis after Brexit because our market is so small we rely on batch sharing with the British market because a lot of manufacturing companies don’t view it as feasible to get specific licences for Ireland, especially for low cost medications or medications with a short shelf life.” 

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Ms McGuinness said “we have had every single pharmaceutical company from the top level in my office from the United Kingdom saying please, we have to do something, because the supply of medicines which keep us all alive and well, could be interrupted if there is not a continuation of the current regime,” she remarked.

Ms McGuinness said ”the UK know that, I don’t think they understand it fully, so I have asked those people to go and talk again.”  Ms McGuinness said, “for farmers, the supply of veterinary medicines could also be at risk here.” 

Veterinary Ireland has been looking at the issue of medicine access for some time. Last October a meeting was held between the organisation and their UK counterparts in the British Veterinary Association in Belfast. 

The meeting highlighted how the veterinary profession across the island of Ireland and in Britain must continue to have access to medicines for the treatment of animals and to meet standards that ensure safety, quality and efficacy.


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