Impact of Protocol on Availability of Medicines is Intolerable – Chambers

Ulster Unionist Health spokesperson, Alan Chambers MLA, has described as ‘intolerable’ the situation whereby under the NI Protocol, medicines that are readily available in Great Britain would be restricted or even unavailable in Northern Ireland.   

Alan Chambers said:

“Earlier this year under the NI Protocol we saw the EU move to limit the movement of certain types of goods and foodstuffs from Great Britain to Northern Ireland. Now, also via the Protocol, the EU is seeking to restrict the movement of medicines from one part of the UK to another.

“This is intolerable and a world away from claims of ‘the best of both worlds’ that some people and parties once promised us. It is also a salutary lesson for those who demanded the ‘rigorous implementation’ of the Protocol.

“With the grace period due to end on 1st January 2022 there has been considerable concern about the effect that the Northern Ireland Protocol is going to have on the supply of medicines and medical devices into Northern Ireland after that date. Suppliers of these goods had to serve notice on the UK Government by the end of June 2021 if they intended to cease sending products to Northern Ireland.

“Lord Frost, who had previously given general evidence to the Lords EU Sub-Committee on the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland on the 14th July 2021, wrote to the Chair of the Committee, Lord Jay, on the 28th July 2021 (see attached). In that letter Lord Frost offered more details, in particular on supply of medicines to Northern Ireland. He revealed that to date formal notifications of between 280 and 290 confirmed medicine discontinuations of supply to Northern Ireland had been received. He stated that the DHSC had also been alerted by suppliers to a number of additional potential discontinuations from 1st January 2022 which are yet to be confirmed and that DHSC are currently in discussion with those suppliers.

 “We have already witnessed the EU peddle the complete fiction that the Protocol is designed to protect the Belfast Agreement whilst simultaneously denying us the right to bring in goods from the rest of our own country. It would be insulting our intelligence for anyone to try to claim that denying us the right to bring in medicines from the rest of our own country is in any way protecting the Belfast Agreement.

“The Ulster Unionist Party regards the situation affecting the supply of medicines and medical devices as absolutely unacceptable and it must not be allowed. We welcome, and fully support, the comments contained in the recently published UK Government Command Paper that ‘given the range and depth of these challenges, the simplest way forward may be to remove all medicines from the scope of the Protocol entirely.”


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