Pharmacists may be able to alter GP prescriptions in the event of a no-deal Brexit

Pharmacists may need emergency powers to amend prescriptions without their GP's authorisation to cope with drug shortages following a no-deal Brexit, wholesalers have warned.

Patients may need to be switched to alternative medicines if there are long-term supply problems following a no-deal Brexit. I JIM VARNEY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Martin Sawer, executive director of the Healthcare Distributors Association, told MPs that a no-deal Brexit would be 'catastrophic' for medicine supplies. Patients may need to have their medications substituted without their GP’s permission if the drugs they usually take are unavailable following the UK’s departure from the EU, he said.

Getting medicines through UK ports 'would be a challenge for some time' and medicines already in the UK would need to be managed more effectively, he added.

House of Commons health and social care committee chair and former GP Dr Sarah Wollaston described from her own experience how ‘chasing round’ for alternative medicines already ‘takes up an inordinate amount of clinicians’ time and pharmacists’ time’. She added: ‘If that happens on a grand scale, for many products all at the same time, that is - I think - what concerns a lot of people.'

Royal Pharmaceutical Society president Ash Soni told The Times it would be ‘sensible’ to allow pharmacists to switch medicines on prescriptions in the event of Brexit shortages, rather than ‘adding yet more pressure to general practices’. 

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