The UK government and the European Union have agreed a phased process for implementing medicines regulation in Northern Ireland up to 31 December 2021.

The National Pharmacy Association has welcomed the move as “common sense”, having lobbied Cabinet Office Minister Michael Gove for a delay.

In a letter sent to Mr Gove on 27 October, NPA chair Andrew Lane said the requirement for Northern Ireland to continue to comply with EU medicines regulations that will no longer apply in the UK (which is the main source of supply) could distort the medicines supply chain. He warned that the additional cost and complexity of getting medicines into Northern Ireland could result in medicines shortages and an increase in procurement costs. He urged more time was needed for planning and implementation.

The Cabinet Office announced on 5 November that a phased approach has now been agreed.

Andrew Lane said:

“This buys time for businesses to prepare in relation to batch testing, imports and the Falsified Medicines Directive. In the circumstances, it’s a common sense decision which we support. We believe our representations on behalf of NPA members in Northern Ireland have been on the mark, pragmatic and effective.”

Earlier in October, the UK Community Pharmacy Falsified Medicine Directive Working Group called on the government in Westminster to protect the supply of medicines into Northern Ireland following the end of the Brexit transition period. The working group consists of the national organisations representing community pharmacy across the UK (NPA, CCA, AIM, PSNC, CPS, CPW, CPNI).