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UK bans parallel exporting of crucial medicines to help COVID-19 patients

The UK government has announced that the parallel export of certain essential medicines is banned, to preserve drugs for the treatment of coronavirus patients.

Pile of medicines

…the restrictions are a standard measure to manage potential medicine shortages”

The UK government has announced that crucial medicines are to be protected for COVID-19 coronavirus patients; more than 80 medicines used to treat patients in intensive care units have been banned from parallel export* from the UK.

According to the government, the parallel export ban will help to ensure there is an uninterrupted supply of medicines for National Health Service (NHS) hospitals treating coronavirus patients.

The new restrictions cover crucial medicines such as:

  • adrenaline
  • insulin
  • paracetamol
  • morphine.

The government emphasises that the restrictions are a standard measure to manage potential medicine shortages and protects UK patients by ensuring the NHS has the treatments to continue providing their care.

Companies that parallel export a medicine on the ban list may face tough enforcement action from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and risk having their trading licence revoked for serious breaches. Furthermore, the Department of Health and Social Care has existing processes to deal with and resolve medicines shortages. 

Health minister Lord James Bethell said: “Our brilliant NHS staff are going above and beyond to provide world-class care to patients with coronavirus and we are supporting them in every way we can. We are today banning the parallel export of more than 80 crucial medicines to protect patients in the UK and help ensure they can always get the treatments they need.”

The full list of medicines that cannot be parallel exported from the UK can be found here

*Parallel exporting is when companies buy medicines meant for UK patients and sell on for a higher price in another country, potentially causing or aggravating supply problems.

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