SNP minister accused of ‘scaring the public’ over medicines shortage claim

Scotland's Brexit Secretary has been accused of seeking to "scare the public" over his claim that medicines supplies cannot be guaranteed if the UK leaves the EU with no deal.

Pharmaceutical chiefs have even warned that Mike Russell's comments could spark panic buying among patients which could hit supplies.
Mr Russell said yesterday that the supply of drugs could not be guaranteed if a deal on the UK's departure was not struck with the EU.

But Professor Ash Soni, president of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, today hit back at the SNP politician's claims.
"I think trying to scare the public is not a great thing to be doing at this moment in time," he told BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland.

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"We need the public to be working with us in making sure that we have full access to medicines.

Mike Russell has been accused of scaremongering

"What we don't want is patients themselves starting to stockpile because that in itself will create a shortage in the market.

"If you think about the number of people that take certain medicines. If you had, for the sake of argument, every diabetic keeping one extra box of medicine - that's millions of extra boxes.

"That automatically will have an issue on the supply chain, not just because of the fact that there is a shortage but because actually a shortage is created because of panic created by politicians."

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Prof Soni added the public should not be concerned at the moment about the prospect of drugs not being available in the event of a no deal Brexit.

"As far as I'm aware, all the contingencies that were put in place prior to March are still in place for October and we should see robust mechanisms to ensure that patients continue to get full access to all of their medicines," he said.

Asked if this be UK-wide in light of Mr Russell's comments, Prof Soni added: "I would expect so.

"Currently most medicines come in through Dover and Folkestone, but the plan would be to open all six ferry ports and also they've now put in place, as far as I'm aware, airline air freight cover for rapid movement of medicines if necessary.

"I would expect that to be across the UK."

He said that most medicines have "quite a long shelf live" and and there's no issue around stockpiling supplies which then run out of date.

But he added: "We're only in July and actually with the flow of the number of medicines that we use in the UK and the volume we use, its quite early to be stockpiling for an additional six weeks."