Community pharmacy chief responds to claims circulated about drug shortages from Good Morning Britain of Northern Ireland
The Managing Director of Community Pharmacy NI has hit back at claims that the drug supply in Northern Ireland will be affected by the protocol.
erard Greene said he wanted to “reassure” patients and the public that “the supply of drugs in Northern Ireland is good”.
Mr Greene made the remarks in response to a program that aired Friday on ITV’s Good Morning Britain.
During the segment, Roger Pollen of the Federation of Small Businesses said a number of its members who run pharmacies and small wholesale distribution businesses are experiencing “real difficulties in accessing supplies.”
Mr Pollen suggested they were “in real pain” and some he had spoken with referred to “the shutdown because of the pressure they are facing”.
Concerns have already been raised about concerns over drug supply following the Northern Ireland Protocol.
Protocol is the means by which a hard border is avoided on the island of Ireland. Northern Ireland continues to follow EU rules and thus creates a de facto maritime border with Britain, which has angered trade unionists and sparked protests.
There had been warnings that thousands of drugs could be pulled from sale here due to the border with the Irish Sea.
A grace period for drugs was due to expire in January, but the UK government has extended it indefinitely.
Mr Greene reassured the public that any drug shortage was “sporadic”.
“Community Pharmacy NI is aware of the comments made on Good Morning Britain today regarding the supply of medicines in Northern Ireland,” he said.
“I want to reassure patients and the general public that contrary to opinions expressed in the media today, the supplies of medicines in Northern Ireland are good today.
Community pharmacists will continue to work, as they always have, to research and supply patients in Northern Ireland with the medicines they have been prescribed.
“Although there will inevitably be sporadic shortages of certain drug lines from time to time, as has happened in recent years across the UK, CPNI continues to work with the Department of Health and ” other stakeholders to ensure the supply of drugs to pharmacies and patients. in NI is maintained in the future.
The comments come as negotiations continue on Friday between UK Brexit Minister Lord Frost and EU Vice President Maros Sefcovic.
Following discussions with the EU, a UK government spokesperson said: “Lord Frost and European Commission Vice-President Sefcovic met today in London to review the progress of the discussions on the Northern Ireland Protocol.
“Lord Frost noted that there were still significant gaps to be bridged between the positions of the UK and the EU. He noted that, as reported to the House of Lords on November 10, the UK still preferred to find a consensual path with 16 safeguards rightfully part of the protocol’s provisions.
Lord Frost also stressed the need to address all of the issues that the UK had identified during the talks, if a comprehensive and lasting solution was to be found which supported the Belfast (Good Friday) Agreement and was in the best interest of Northern Ireland.
“In this context, although the talks have so far been conducted in a constructive spirit, Lord Frost stressed that in order to move forward it is important to bring new energy and impetus to the discussions.
“As a result, intensified talks will be held between the teams in Brussels next week on all issues, with special attention to drug and customs issues. Lord Frost and the Vice-President will meet at the end of the week to review progress. “
Maros Sefcovic said the main points of contention between the EU and the UK – such as drugs – could be resolved as early as next week.
He told a press conference that there were areas which were “actually fairly easy fruits to expect” in the negotiations on the Northern Ireland Protocol.
Mr Sefcovic said: “And I think if our experts think about it, they can actually solve it in a week, I really believe it, because we are so close.”
He said he hoped this would give “new impetus” to discussions that “hopefully open other doors and lead us to success.”