Isle Of Man / Ellan Vannin

Brexit fears sees IOM hospital increase medicine stocks

Pills Image copyright BBC Horizon
Image caption The island buys most of its medicine supplies from wholesalers in the UK

Medicine stocks at Noble's Hospital will increase by 50% because of uncertainty surrounding Brexit, the Isle of Man's chief minister has said.

Howard Quayle MHK said supplies would be increased from four weeks' worth to six until the UK's negotiations with the European Union have been completed.

The sale of medicines in the UK is covered by EU law and there are fears that "no deal" could lead to shortages.

The majority of medicines prescribed on Island are bought from UK wholesalers.

Noble's Hospital routinely increases its supplies in winter in order to reduce the risk of shortages caused by bad weather affecting deliveries.

Mr Quayle said: "Now that the Christmas and New Year holidays are over, we're not going to go down to the four-week stocking level, we are going to stay at six weeks.

"Keeping our levels at six weeks but ensuring that we're part of a central UK area for the supply of medicines has got to be the best way forward," he added.

Mr Quayle said holding more than six weeks' stock could leave the government "out of pocket" because some drugs "only have a very short shelf life".

The UK government's Commercial Medicines Unit (CMU) has warned hospitals and GP surgeries against stockpiling medicines, and is monitoring stock movements.

'Six-week supply'

During the summer months, the island's hospital typically keeps four weeks' of supplies, double that of a similar-sized hospital in England.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: "Noble's pharmacy routinely increases stock holding to approximately six weeks' supply every winter, partly as a contingency against bad weather and cancelled boat sailings, and partly against supplier closures over the festive season.

"The plan this year is to maintain that level across the board, rather than allowing it to run back down to normal levels in January, until the outcome of the current negotiation is clear.

"Hospitals in both Jersey and Guernsey intend to increase stock level to hold a six-week supply, so counterparts on other small islands are preparing in a very similar way."

GPs on the Isle of Man will follow the UK government's advice not to prescribe larger supplies to patients than usual, the spokesperson added.

Island pharmacies have an agreement to keep the same rights of supply as UK pharmacies.

Wholesalers and suppliers in the UK have been asked by the CMU to increase stock levels to six weeks.

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