The impact of the Protocol on medicines was made clear today. The vast majority of our medicines are supplied through Great Britain and we were told “the biggest single factor causing the difficulties” was the need for Northern Ireland to follow the Falsified Medicines Directive.
It is only due to the Protocol that Northern Ireland is bound by this directive despite it only being necessary for a very tiny proportion of medicines.
Despite the often-repeated claim that the issue of the medicine was resolved back in 2021, we face a cliff-edge in December.
Unless there is a resolution by then, it poses a credible threat that many hundreds of medicines would be discontinued in Northern Ireland.
Despite this threat, there is no indication that the issue of medicine is even being discussed or that any new proposals have been tabled.
It was notable to hear a suggestion that a simple way to make progress would be for Northern Ireland simply to ignore the Falsified Medicines Directive given the costs of complying with it would vastly outweigh any penalties imposed.
If the EU continues to cling to its “rules based” mantra then simple solutions will be more difficult to achieve.
What is needed is the will to make progress and for our supply of medicines to be supplied and regulated as they should be, right across our NHS on a UK basis.