Drug shortages, Brexit and the EU

The UK government is making contingency plans for a “NO DEAL” Brexit. High on the list of concerns are drug supplies. Will they be disrupted post Brexit ?

That question was posed last week – not in the UK  but in France. Le Parisien raised concerns in its article on the report of a 3 month Senate enquiry into year on year increases in drug shortages in France.

I quote:

“No less than 108 drugs are manufactured in Great Britain. The prospect of Brexit is very worrying because it could place Europe’s supply at risk and increase the number of stock shortages.”

This same report in Le Parisien quotes this from the Senate’s official report:

“80% of the primary ingredients in drugs are made in Asia – India and China – and in the United States”.

An article in Public Senat on-line quotes the following from no less a source than the European Drugs agency:

“Almost 40% of commercial drugs sold in the European Union come from countries outside the EU and 80% of the manufacturers of the constituent chemicals are located outside the EU.”

The figures speak for themselves. But what is particularly significant is that neither the French government nor the EU has a handle on the growing problem of shortages of drugs to treat major conditions

If you make a search on-line re drug shortages in France you will find reports going back to at least 2013. The problem is raised every year in France, yet nothing has been done to stop it getting worse.

Quoting from the Public Senat article on the Senate Report again:

“In 2017, the number of reports to the National Drug Safety Agency about stock failure and  risk of stock failure and breakdown of supplies of essential drugs reached an all-time record: 530 – that is 10 times more than 10 years ago, the Report reveals.”

Such is the concern that Senators are recommending 30 key measures for  inclusion in a parliamentary Bill on Health Service funding due to come before the Senate on 11 November this year.

Among the measures proposed are more public subsidies, use of generic drugs, and establishing a central State manufacturer and distributor of certain essential drugs at present liable to shortages.

The conditions at risk from drug shortages include vaccines for Hepatitis B, drugs used to treat sufferers of epilepsy and Parkinsons as well as anti-biotics.

These reports can be accessed at


and at


Ray Catlin

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