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Brexit Has Worsened Persistent Drug Shortages in the UK, Report Warns

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Drug shortages are becoming the “new normal” in the UK, according to a recent research by the health think tank Nuffield Trust, and Brexit is making things worse. According to the research, there has been a significant rise in the unavailability of essential pharmaceuticals, which presents significant difficulties for patients, healthcare providers, and the NHS.

The report’s primary conclusions show that medication makers have been warning about potential supply interruptions much more frequently than ever before. In 2020, there were 648 warnings, compared to 1,634 warnings in the year prior. The report’s lead author, Mark Dayan, voiced concern about the way that shortages of medications have gone from being uncommon to being the norm—a shift that was unanticipated just ten years ago.

Drugs used to treat ADHD, type 2 diabetes, and epilepsy have been particularly affected by the shortages; some of these treatments are still unobtainable even though they are supposed to restore normal circulation. As a result of the lack of necessary medications, individuals with serious illnesses are at risk for health problems and may even be in life-threatening circumstances.

The seriousness of the crisis is reflected in the dramatic increase in enquiries received from patients who are having difficulty obtaining their prescription medications, according to reports from health charities. For example, the Epilepsy Society has seen an increase in people who are so desperate that they are traveling great distances and visiting several pharmacies to get their prescription.

The National Pharmacy Association and other pharmacy professionals stress the serious effects of supply shortages on patients who depend on life-saving medications. While pharmacists spend a great deal of time searching for rare medications, they frequently have to turn patients away because of a shortage, which causes anxiety and delays in providing necessary medical care.

Global issues like COVID-19-related industrial disruptions, inflation, the conflict in Ukraine, and geopolitical uncertainty have all contributed to the UK’s extraordinary difficulty in guaranteeing medicine accessibility. However, by highlighting the vulnerability of the nation’s medical supply networks, Brexit has severely worsened the problem.

The UK’s decision to leave the European Medicines Agency has caused delays in medicine approvals, and its exit from the EU has upset drug supply networks, requiring regulatory modifications and customs checks. Shortages have been made worse by some businesses being forced to completely stop supplying the UK due to post-Brexit red tape.

The paper alerts readers to additional dangers associated with Brexit, particularly given that the EU may marginalize the UK by prioritizing its own medication supply in the face of global shortages. Experts stress the critical need for immediate government action, such as increased reimbursement for generic drugs and changes to laws that would give pharmacists more authority to address shortages.

The majority of medications are still accessible, according to the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), although worries about the burden on healthcare systems and patient welfare still exist. Amidst continuous obstacles in the pharmaceutical industry, efforts to guarantee continuous availability of necessary pharmaceuticals continue to be of utmost importance.

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