🚀 AI-picked stocks soar in May. PRFT is +55%—in just 16 days! Don’t miss June’s top picks.Unlock full list

UK drug shortages swell amid Brexit supply woes, think-tank data shows

Published 18/04/2024, 11:52
© Reuters. FIEL PHOTO: Empty shelves out of stock of medicine are pictured in a supermarket in London, Britain, March 6 2020. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls/File Photo

(Reuters) - Drug shortages in the UK more than doubled between 2020 and 2023 with Brexit likely to "significantly weaken" the country's ability to tackle supply chain snags, according to a report published by the Nuffield Trust think-tank on Thursday.

The research found drug companies issued 1,643 warnings of impending medicine shortages in 2023, compared with 648 in 2020 - the year Britain left the European Union (EU).

The increased shortages, including for key treatments such as antibiotics and epilepsy drugs, have also led to the government reimbursing pharmacies for buying drugs above their standard cost more frequently.

The price concessions increased from 20 instances per month before 2016 to a peak of 199 per month in late 2022, according to the report titled "The future for health after Brexit".

While drug shortages have catapulted across the U.S. and Europe in recent years, Britain faces a higher risk as Brexit has lowered the value of sterling and removed the UK from EU supply chains.

The shortages have also been worsened by changes in demand patterns due to the way doctors prescribe medicines in the UK and squeezed National Health Service (NHS) budgets, the report added.

"We know many of the problems are global and relate to fragile chains of imports from Asia, squeezed by COVID-19 shutdowns, inflation and global instability," said Nuffield Trust Brexit Programme Lead Mark Dayan.

"But exiting the EU has left the UK with several additional problems – products no longer flow as smoothly across the borders with the EU, and in the long term, our struggles to approve as many medicines might mean we have fewer alternatives available."

© Reuters. FIEL PHOTO: Empty shelves out of stock of medicine are pictured in a supermarket in London, Britain, March 6 2020. REUTERS/Henry Nicholls/File Photo

UK has been slower to approve new drugs than the EU, the report said. Of all 2023 approvals, 56 drugs authorised in Europe were approved later in the UK. Eight have not been approved, while only four were approved faster.

($1 = 0.8018 pounds)

Latest comments

Risk Disclosure: Trading in financial instruments and/or cryptocurrencies involves high risks including the risk of losing some, or all, of your investment amount, and may not be suitable for all investors. Prices of cryptocurrencies are extremely volatile and may be affected by external factors such as financial, regulatory or political events. Trading on margin increases the financial risks.
Before deciding to trade in financial instrument or cryptocurrencies you should be fully informed of the risks and costs associated with trading the financial markets, carefully consider your investment objectives, level of experience, and risk appetite, and seek professional advice where needed.
Fusion Media would like to remind you that the data contained in this website is not necessarily real-time nor accurate. The data and prices on the website are not necessarily provided by any market or exchange, but may be provided by market makers, and so prices may not be accurate and may differ from the actual price at any given market, meaning prices are indicative and not appropriate for trading purposes. Fusion Media and any provider of the data contained in this website will not accept liability for any loss or damage as a result of your trading, or your reliance on the information contained within this website.
It is prohibited to use, store, reproduce, display, modify, transmit or distribute the data contained in this website without the explicit prior written permission of Fusion Media and/or the data provider. All intellectual property rights are reserved by the providers and/or the exchange providing the data contained in this website.
Fusion Media may be compensated by the advertisers that appear on the website, based on your interaction with the advertisements or advertisers.
© 2007-2024 - Fusion Media Limited. All Rights Reserved.