I just came across this misinformed piece of anti-Brexit hype on LinkedIn. That site only allows short comments, so I’ve written a fuller response here on the blog.
In brief … Remainers jump at any opportunity to blame any problem on Brexit. “We told you so”. This is certainly the case with medicine shortages. I show below that such shortages have been a growing problem for years, affecting many countries, and are clearly not the result of Brexit (which at the time of writing hasn’t even happened yet).
The Offending Post
Medicine shortages are clearly a serious area of worry for people who need them. But no matter how much #brexit #brexitchaos #brexitshambles #brexitplanning hashtag hysteria you add, that doesn’t make shortages due to Brexit. In fact, such misdirection demeans a very real issue.
Here’s a more rational and less polemical take on Naproxen specifically from the National Ankylosing Spondylitis Society:
Shortages of drugs are commonplace and can be down to a number of factors:
– Increased global demand
– Cost of raw materials
– New regulatory requirements driving up costs
– Fluctuations in exchange rates
– Generic companies being unwilling to carry on selling unprofitable products.
At the moment it hasn’t been made clear exactly why naproxen shortages specifically are happening.
Is this related to Brexit?
No – it is more of a global problem than just a UK one.
I know you began your post (incorrectly) with “Brexit fact”. But in case you believe the National Ankylosing Spondylitis Society is, for some reason shilling for Brexit, here’s another reference to help you with the truth:
Sandra Gidley from the Royal Pharmaceutical Society explained this has been an ongoing issue for nearly a decade and is not a direct side effect of Brexit.
Balanced and informed observers will point out that periodical shortages are a characteristic of the modern pharmaceutical market due to multiple factors, many of them structural, and are not a new thing although they have been getting more common in the last few years. They are also certainly not limited to the UK. Here’s an article on recurrent shortages in France in recent years – also clearly not related in any way to Brexit:
One common characteristic is that many shortages relate to cheap generic versions of drugs. This is typically the result of manufacturers and suppliers managing production and distribution to try to optimise returns across different regulated national markets. In the case of the NHS, that means pharmacists and dispensaries have to choose between refusing to supply patients with the more expensive variants (which are usually in plentiful supply) or supplying them at a loss. This scenario appears to be precisely the one currently affecting Naproxen, which you mention.
The Department of Health is trying to make it easier to dispense alternative drugs/brands/forms/quantities where shortages are an issue. In some cases, it is possible to obtains a price dispensation so that pharmacies can supply a more expensive variant where a cheap generic has been prescribed and obtain full reimbursement instead of dispensing at a loss.
So please let’s avoid shroud waving and unfounded hysteria, and let’s not misuse this issue to attack Brexit.
Addendum: Handbags at dawn
As seems to be the Remainer Way, Phil was entirely unmoved by having his comments shown to be absolutely untrue. It predictably all got a bit handbags at dawn after that. Phil refused to acknowledge the unquestionable falseness of his claims or to correct them. He tried opening up a new line of attack (European worries about drugs FROM the UK, rather than the other way around, ‘proving’ that Brexit would cause shortages) . But that was also without any basis in fact and fell equally flat. He finished off with another risible attempt at proving the Earth is flat and disappeared mumbling vague insults