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Question for Department of Health and Social Care

UIN 191984, tabled on 15 November 2018

To ask the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, if he will make an assessment of the effect of the UK leaving the EU on the availability of Keppra for people with epilepsy.

Answered on

22 November 2018

The United Kingdom’s position on medicines regulation remains clear. We want to retain a close working partnership with the European Union to ensure that medicines remain available to UK patients in a safe and timely manner. We have been clear that this involves us making sure our regulators continue to work together, as they do with regulators internationally. As the Prime Minister has said, we intend to to explore with the EU the terms on which the UK could remain part the European Medicines Agency.

Until we can be certain of the outcome of Brexit negotiations our duty as a responsible Government is to prepare for all eventualities, including ‘no deal’. On 23 August 2018, therefore, the Department wrote to all pharmaceutical companies that supply the United Kingdom with prescription only or pharmacy medicines from, or via, the European Union/European Economic Area, asking them to ensure they have a minimum of six weeks’ additional supply in the UK, over and above their business as usual operational buffer stocks, by 29 March 2019 in the event of a no-deal scenario.

Since then, we have received very good engagement from industry who share our aims of ensuring continuity of medicines supply for patients is maintained and able to cope with any potential delays at the border that may arise in the short term in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

We understand that the medicine Keppra is important to many people in this country. However, the Department recognises that through its medicines supply contingency programme it is requesting sensitive commercial information from pharmaceutical companies. To reassure participating companies, we have committed to treating all information received confidentially, securely and to using it only for the purposes of the Department’s programme. That means not introducing information about a company, specific medicine or their supply routes into the public domain.