Preparing for Brexit: Security of supply for essential medicines and therapies

Ensuring pituitary patients have security of supply for their essential medicines and therapies.

Westminster’s Commons Select Committee on Health and Social Care is conducting an inquiry into Brexit preparations for a possible No-Deal outcome on 29 March 2019. As part of this inquiry, it called for submissions from patient support groups about how their members might be affected. On behalf of The Pituitary Foundation, CEO Menai Owen-Jones sent in a submission, focussed on the most immediate practical risks to patients from a No-Deal situation.

Readers who follow the news may be aware that the UK government has issued a series of advice notices to businesses about how to prepare for such an outcome, including a requirement for all licensed drug suppliers to stockpile an extra six weeks’ supply of their products within UK warehouses, in case of transport and customs disruptions.

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This raises some concerning questions for pituitary patients about possible shortages of their essential medicines. Many patients will have experienced occasional problems filling a repeat prescription in the past, and no one wants to go through more of those anxieties or difficulties after Brexit. The Pituitary Foundation took the view that this was a safety issue that merited advocacy, as part of the charity’s duty to act as a ‘patient voice’ for members and the wider patient community.



In its submission, The Foundation requested that the Health Secretary and Department of Health:

  • Recognise the needs of vulnerable patient groups, such as those with pituitary conditions, and the time-critical nature of many medication dependencies, such as steroid replacement for adrenal insufficiency.
  • Revise the current ‘one-size-fits-all’ approach to central drug reserves and fine-tune government planning, to prioritise essential medicines such as replacement hormones – which are essential for life.
  • Revise the earlier directive prohibiting patients and NHS trusts from enlarging their personal/hospital reserves, and permit patients with acute, time-critical medication dependencies to receive an extended supply to reduce the risk of running out of medicine in the event of unforeseen shortages.

You can find more information about drug therapies and how to manage pituitary medication dependencies, such as hydrocortisone, on these links: