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British generics manufacturers call for Northern Ireland supply to be sorted

Mark Samuels, Chief Executive of the British Generic Manufacturers Association (BGMA), urges EU and UK to put patients above politics in solving medicine supply challenges for Northern Ireland.

pile of blister packets containing various colours, shapes and sizes of medicines - idea of medicines supply

In a statement Mark Samuels, Chief Executive of the British Generic Manufacturers Association (BGMA), called on the UK Government and European Union to find a solution to medicines supply for Northern Ireland.

Samuels emphasised that the lack of a “stable agreement” had forced companies “to put on notice over 2,000 medicines for withdrawal from Northern Ireland”, which he said was done with reluctance but necessitated by the impossible and uncertain position they were faced with.

The statement reads: “We welcome the [UK] Government’s attempt to find a solution to medicines supply for Northern Ireland – however the situation is dragging on too long. We need both sides to agree a resolution for Northern Ireland immediately. Over many months, we have been vocal about the need for companies to know the regulatory rules for which they need to plan. Without an agreement between the government and the EU, uncertainty prevents manufacturers from planning. The manufacturing, quality control and supply chain for medicines are highly complex – they cannot be re-engineered overnight. Four out of five drugs used by the NHS are generic medicines and this large scale exacerbates the supply chain complexity.

“Our industry delivers high volumes of medicines at low prices and with small commercial margins. It thrives on simplicity and efficiency but is now caught in a complicated situation with Northern Ireland – which under the Protocol is treated as part of the EU – requiring different medicines regulation rules to the rest of Great Britain. This situation threatens to prevent companies from supplying an identical product to Great Britain and Northern Ireland. The result of this duplication would be to require extra warehousing, laboratory testing and technical specialists. This duplication could make supplying Northern Ireland in many cases unviable in the longer term.”

Samuels concluded that all parties need to “set aside the politics of Brexit and put patients first.”

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