Ash Soni, president of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS), said he was reassured to hear directly from the government about contingency planning in the event of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit.
Soni made his comments following a meeting, held on 8 November 2018, between the Department of Health and Social Care medicines and pharmacy directorate and three senior representatives of the RPS: Soni, chief executive Paul Bennett, and Sandra Gidley, chair of the English Pharmacy Board.
The RPS requested the meeting with the directorate to seek more information on measures being introduced to protect patients from the risk of medicines shortages in the wake of Brexit.
In a statement, Soni spoke of “continued uncertainty” in the pharmacy sector around the prospect of a no-deal Brexit and said the directorate had briefed the RPS on its “ongoing engagement” with medicine manufacturers and suppliers.
The RPS representatives used the meeting to make several further points, including the importance of public reassurance around medicines access if a deal is not reached.
They also raised the question of whether guidance for healthcare professionals on managing medicines shortages would be developed.
Soni added: “While we would echo the government’s advice that people should not stockpile medicines, we also know pharmacists are often on the frontline when it comes to providing reassurance to patients who may have concerns.
“In the event of a no-deal Brexit, we would look to the government and NHS to engage rapidly with the health professions about potential measures to support patient care, whether that is enabling pharmacists to substitute medicines or improving communication between clinicians about repeat prescriptions.”
Soni urged all sides in the Brexit negotiations to make further progress in the coming weeks, and said it is “vital that the UK and EU work towards an agreement to ensure patients continue to have access to treatment”.