What does Brexit mean for your pharmacy?
The politicians continue their debates, but uncertainty seems the main consequence of the UK’s decision to leave the European Union.
However, Brexit is coming in one form or another. So what is it likely to mean for your pharmacy?
Currently, hospitals across England are starting to report medicine shortages because of stockpiling and price pressure as the Brexit deadline approaches.
Pharmacists say they are struggling too - and finding it difficult to obtain many common medicines, including painkillers. This has meant many pharmacists are already paying inflated costs for common medicines.
There are around 80 medicines now in such short supply that the Department of Health has agreed to pay a premium for them.
Most people should be able to get their prescriptions filled as normal - although possibly with a brand that is not the one they may be used to. Some pharmacists have resorted to sending patients back to their GPs to ask for a different prescription. Generic and biosimilars may be available.
You may need to stockpile where you can - and be prepared to pay additional costs.
Authorisation for new medicines
The single European marketing authorisation is a valuable measure that reduces cost and complexity for manufacturers, facilitating simpler drug production and regulation.
European marketing authorisations are issued by the European Medicines Agency, currently based in London but almost certain to leave the country as a consequence of Brexit. Any new standalone UK national authorisation procedure may delay access to new medicines for patients in the UK - and will take considerable time to set up.
The Royal Pharmaceutical Society has pledged to continue to work with partners both within and outside the European Union to ensure the UK remains a leader in pharmacy practice and pharmaceutical science.
Research and international co-operation should be able to continue - but this might change, depending on how any Brexit deal is structured.
Authorisation for work
The Royal Pharmaceutical Society is also working to ensure that pharmacists and pharmaceutical scientists from all countries can continue to work in pharmacies within the UK.
It is too early to understand what the legal implications of Brexit might be for pharmacy regulation. EU pharmacy professionals already registered or training in Britain, and for those seeking to register or train in Britain, will be able to remain until any changes to the law are made.
The NHS depends on people from overseas. Around 55,000 of the NHS’s total 1.2 million workforce are EU citizens. These numbers make it look as though the free movement of key people will have to be allowed. Brexit is not expected to affect the registration status of doctors and pharmaceutical professionals already registered.
If you or a member of your staff come from overseas, it should be possible to continue work without interruptions.
There may be effects on pharmacy research if direct financial support from the EU is curtailed. EU funding may have been essential in recent years to support research to drive the development of medicines and to improve patient care.
In addition, the free movement of pharmaceutical scientists to and from the EU has enabled the UK to enhance an already extensive research capacity.
Pharmaceutical research may be put at a disadvantage if appropriate measures are not put in place
What about the costs?
As an independent pharmacist, your chief Brexit worries may focus on the need to provide a wide range of medicines for your customers which might become difficult to obtain if Brexit causes difficulties with supply.
You may need to find external funding to allow you to stockpile key items, or to approach new sources of supply with which you do not currently have a trading relationship.
At Rangewell, we have financial specialists working to support the pharmaceutical sector and recognise the scale of the task and of the level of funding you may require.
Fortunately, we understand the challenges and solutions. For example, as a retailer, a Merchant Cash Advance might be a simple way to raise additional funds to invest in stock. The advance is repaid when customers pay by card with a percentage deduction made from each transaction.
You might also consider an Overdraft Replacement facility, or Line of Credit, which could provide a flexible reserve of funds that you can call on as you wish - which might be the kind of flexible solution you would need if a supply of key medicines became suddenly available.
Getting the right kind of finance for your business is essential. By calling on us at Rangewell you can be sure of getting the most cost-effective ways to raise the finance you need.
Brexit is certainly coming - and business disruption could be following after. To safeguard the future of your business, you must get the financial solutions you need organised today. Plus, find additional support for your pharmacy with our Pharmacy Directory - from legal support for pharmacists to specialist accountants and more.