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Medicines for Ireland (MFI), the Irish pharmaceutical trade association and the supplier of the majority of medicines in Ireland to the HSE and patients directly, has published its most recent report, titled Brexit: Impact on Imports and Exports of Medicines and Medical Devices in Ireland. According to MFI Chairperson Mr David Delaney:

“The good news is that following continuous consultation with our members, we don’t currently anticipate any issues with regard to the supply of medicines in Ireland, despite experiencing increase in demand. We are, however, concerned that the temporary nature of some of the current measures employed by the Government need to be addressed, as they are not sustainable moving forward and they threaten to undermine our ability to supply medicines to those who need them the most.

“Further shocks to the supply chain, such as a new variant of Covid-19, could render the current patchwork Government policy inadequate to support our efforts in this regard.”

The report highlights the direct impact that Brexit has had on the imports and exports of medicines and medical devices in Ireland, with 90 per cent of MFI member companies reporting delays in importing and exporting since 1 January 2021. All member companies are experiencing increased pressure on the supply chain, putting patient access to medicines in jeopardy on the island of Ireland, unless stakeholders organise sustainable solutions quickly, said the organisation.

Speaking about the report, Mr Delaney said: “Let’s put on record our industry’s thanks for the hard work of officials in the Irish and UK public services leading up to the end of the transition period. But we need to build on those temporary fixes now to overcome the considerable challenges for MFI members who are on the frontline of dealing with the impact of new trading routes and procedures and ensuring no impact for patients in relation to access to medicines.”

He continued: “Some of the findings of the report speak for themselves and illustrate the direct impact that the new trading systems has had on imports and exports, with 56 per cent of our members having experienced delays of up to two-to-three days, since the start of the year. Another 22 per cent of companies have experienced delays of up to five days. Let’s also re-double our work with the logistics sector to ensure they continue to invest to make the new routes and systems work.

“Nevertheless, our mission statement remains the same, to keep patients and their families front and centre of our efforts, and this report indicates that MFI member companies have reacted by changing distribution routes to ensure the continued supply of medicines. Seventy-three per cent of respondents have had to change distribution routes into or out of Ireland since 1 January. This disruption to transport routes and changes from the impact of Covid-19 on business operations have led to increased pressures, with 91 per cent of respondents having experienced increased costs associated with importing and exporting.”

He added that MFI is also communicating with the Department of Health and the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA), as well as the HSE, EU Commission and EU institutions and officials North and South of the border “to ensure a solution-focused approach is taken to secure a stable supply of medicines to the Irish market”.
MFI member companies include Accord Healthcare; Clonmel Healthcare; Consilient Health; Celltrion; Fannin; Fresenius-Kabi; Nasal Medical; Pinewood; Rowa; Teva and Viatris.

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