Question mark hangs over long term patient access to medicines due to import and export delays hitting the island of Ireland

Keeping an eye on trends impacting medicines supply to Irish families, Medicines for Ireland (MFI), the Irish pharmaceutical trade association and the supplier of the majority of medicine in Ireland to the HSE and patients directly, has published its most recent report, entitled Brexit Impact on Imports and Exports of medicines and medical devices in Ireland”.

According to Medicines for Ireland (MFI) Chairperson, David Delaney;

  • ‘’The good news however is that following continuous consultation with our members we don’t currently anticipate any issues with regard the supply of medicines in Ireland despite experiencing increase in demand.’’
  •  ‘’We are, however, concerned that the temporary nature of some of the current measures employed by the Government need to be addressed, as they are not sustainable moving forward and they threaten to undermine our ability to supply medicines to those who need them the most.” 
  • ‘’Further shocks to the supply chain, such as a new variant of Covid-19, could render the current patchwork Government policy inadequate to support our efforts in this regard.”

The report highlights the direct impact that Brexit has had on the imports and exports of medicines and medical devices in Ireland, with 90% of Medicines for Ireland member companies reporting delays in importing and exporting since January 1. All member companies are experiencing increased pressure on the supply chain, putting patient access to medicines in jeopardy on the island of Ireland, unless all stakeholders organise sustainable solutions quickly.

Speaking about the report, Medicines for Ireland (MFI) Chairperson David Delaney said, “let’s put on record our industry’s thanks for the hard work of officials in the Irish and UK public services leading up to the end of the Transition period. But we need to build on those temporary fixes now to overcome the considerable challenges for Medicines for Ireland (MFI) members who are on the front line of dealing with the impact of new trading routes and procedures and ensuring no impact for patients in relation to access to medicines. Some of the findings of the report speak for themselves and illustrate the direct impact that the new trading systems has had on imports and exports, with 56% of our members having experienced delays of up to 2-3 days, since the start of the year. Another 22% of companies have experienced delays of up to 5 days. Let’s also re-double our work with the logistics sector to ensure they continue to invest to make the new routes and systems work.”

“Nevertheless, our mission statement remains the same, to keep patients and their families front and centre of our efforts, and this report indicates that MFI member companies have reacted by changing distribution routes to ensure the continued supply of medicines (73% of respondents have had to change distribution routes into or out of Ireland since 1st January). This disruption to transport routes and changes from the impact of Covid-19 on business operations have led to increased pressures with 91% of respondents having experienced increased costs associated with importing and exporting.”

“MFI are continuing to work pro-actively with Government and key policy makers on aspects of policy to ensure round the clock continuity of supply in Ireland. We’re also communicating with the Department of Health and the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA) as well as the HSE, EU Commission and all relevant EU institutions and officials North and South of the border to ensure a solution focused approach is taken to secure a stable supply of medicines to the Irish market.”

MFI member companies which include Accord Healthcare; Clonmel Healthcare; Consilient Health; Celltrion; Fannin; Fresenius-Kabi; Nasal Medical; Pinewood; Rowa; Teva and Viatris, contribute significantly to Ireland’s €40 billion annual pharmaceutical industry.