Northern Ireland faces medicine shortages ‘unless Brexit rules are changed’

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Vital medicine supplies to Northern Ireland will be disrupted unless Boris Johnson changes the way the province is treated under the terms of the UK’s exit from the European Union, the Democratic Unionist Party is warning.

The comments come after face-to-face talks between Lord Frost, the Cabinet minister in charge of Brexit, and his EU counterpart, vice president Maros Šefčovič, on the so-called Northern Ireland Protocol ended without agreement last week.

Last month the UK delayed the implementation of some new sea border processes without EU agreement, prompting the EU to take legal action.

The UK sent the EU a plan for implementing the protocol which set out areas where the two sides could work together but does not include dates for when the problematic parts of the protocol – the Northern Ireland part of the Brexit deal – will be in place.

Writing on the Telegraph website, Lord Dodds of Duncairn warns the Prime Minister that without reform to the protocol, medical supplies to Northern Ireland will be thrown into turmoil.

From 1 January 2022, Northern Ireland will be tied to the EU’s policy on medicine supplies indefinitely.

But with 98 per cent of NHS supplies coming from Great Britain, this could lead to a “small and segregated ‘NI-only’ pool of products, with the risk that separate labelling and anti-counterfeiting requirements will prevent medicines made to GB specifications from being sold in Northern Ireland”.

Concerns about the supply of medicines from Great Britain to Northern Ireland were raised in the talks between Lord Frost and Mr Šefčovič last week.

Photo: General view of several traffic signals close to the village of Forkhilll, Northern Ireland, United Kingdom. EPA-EFE/JAVIER ETXEZARRETA

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