Harry McQuillan: No need to stockpile medicines pre-Brexit – we’ll get what you need

Harry McQuillan is chief executive of Community Pharmacy Scotland.
Harry McQuillan is chief executive of Community Pharmacy Scotland.
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At this point it would seem like a crystal ball would be the best way to ­predict what kind of Brexit deal the UK ­Government might reach by March 2019. On 23 August, we saw a lot of technical documents and some ­political speeches advising us all on how to prepare for the eventuality of a no-deal Brexit.

No matter whether you voted Leave or Remain in the EU Referendum, it is fair to say that nobody voted to ­worsen the economy or the standards of living that we enjoy here in Scotland.

I’d like to take this opportunity to try and be a calming voice among all of the confusion in the healthcare ­arena, at least where medicines are concerned.

One thing is clear – you do not need to stockpile medicines. Whether you are a member of the public, a pharmacy owner, or a GP writing scripts, we are not in the position where stockpiling medicine is a good idea. The UK Government’s advice on ensuring contingency stocks applies to ­pharmaceutical manufacturers only.

When it comes to the supply of ­medicines, the UK Government assures us that it is seeking to establish emergency routes that could be used in the eventuality of lorries being stuck in Dover or issues with the ports.

Otherwise, the UK Government’s intention is to continue to apply already agreed EU standards when it comes to our medical supplies.

The aim here is to keep the transition period as smooth as possible. So, for example, in the field of human medicines the Government will ­continue to recognise EU testing as sufficient, until a situation arises where retesting becomes necessary.

In reality, we haven’t received much concrete information from the UK Government on a no deal Brexit.

Here at Community Pharmacy Scotland we regularly engage with the Scottish Government to represent our interests and views.

We also take part in consultations launched by all relevant Government bodies, such as the newly announced MHRA consultation on the regulation of medicines, medical devices and clinical trials – which we are waiting to hear further details about.

We will be taking every opportunity to engage with the decision-making process and to advocate for the needs of our community pharmacies and the people that they serve in their local community.

More technical information is expected in September and at ­Community Pharmacy Scotland we’ll be engaging with this information and making sure that our pharmacies stay informed on any relevant issues. For now we should be taking care of our health as usual and you can rely on your local pharmacy to be your first port of call for your regular medicines supply and any health care questions or worries.

Harry McQuillan is chief ­executive of Community Pharmacy Scotland.