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Freestyle Libre and Apo-Go among first NI post-Brexit supply issues

Pharmacies in Northern Ireland have reported issues accessing at least three lines since the post-Brexit border agreement was enforced at the start of the year, C+D can reveal.

In response to a freedom of information (FOI) request by C+D last month, Northern Ireland’s Health and Social Care Board (HSCB) said it was aware of reported issues with diabetes care product Freestyle Libre, Parkinson’s disease medication Apo-Go and gluten-free breads supplied via Alloga.

“To the best of our knowledge, those [issues] that we were aware of have been resolved,” HSCB stressed.

A spokesperson for the health board explained the few issues it was aware of “centred on suppliers’ interpretation of the new customs regimes”.

A spokesperson for Abbott, the manufacturer of FreeStyle Libre, told C+D last month that the company was not aware of any supply issues from pharmacies in Northern Ireland, but asked pharmacies to report any issues to them.

Alloga and Britannia Pharmaceuticals (manufacturer of Apo-Go) were contacted for comment.

HSCB said the Northern Ireland Department of Health is “responsible for, and are working with, companies in order to resolve these issues as and when they are encountered”.

An email update from Community Pharmacy Northern Ireland (CPNI) on January 28 warned of disruption in the supply of stoma care products.

“Several companies were not fully prepared for new arrangements as a result of EU Exit and the Northern Ireland Protocol, resulting in delays in deliveries of some stoma products to wholesalers, community pharmacies and patients,” it said.

CPNI advised prescribers to continue as usual and told patients to contact them or a specialist stoma care team “where a supply issue cannot be resolved”.

Following an agreement between the United Kingdom and the European Union late in December 2020, new border regulations for products travelling between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland came into effect at midnight on January 1.

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