UK government introduces trade restrictions to reduce drug shortages

The government has announced new measures to prevent parallel exporting to ease the supply chain, in an effort to reduce medicine shortages.

The UK government has announced new restrictions on the export of certain medicines, including all variations of hormone replacement therapy (HRT) products. Many of these drugs are in shortage in the country due to manufacturing issues.

The DHSC has written to holders of wholesale dealer licenses to make them aware of the new rules”

The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) limitations will prevent some medicine wholesalers from ‘parallel exporting’. This is when companies buy drugs intended for patients in the UK and export them to another country for profit, often resulting in supply problems.

A total of nineteen HRT drugs will be subject to export restrictions to ensure that alternatives remain available. Similar measures are in place in other European countries, including France and Spain.

Other medicines on the restriction list include all adrenaline auto-injectors and hepatitis B vaccines which have similar regulations placed upon them.

The government has also introduced serious shortage protocol for fluoxetine, an antidepressant. This enables pharmacists to supply an alternative strength or pharmaceutical form to patients who are prescribed the drugs in scarcity.

The DHSC has written to holders of wholesale dealer licenses to make them aware of the new rules. Businesses which parallel export a medicine on the list have been warned that they may face action from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock said: “The new measures we’re introducing today will help us ensure patients get the medicines they need and the high-quality care they deserve.”