2017 In Summary

Over the past twelve months the Special and Licensed Pharma industries have seen many major changes. One of the biggest challenges that UL Medicines’ and other suppliers have faced is managing the effects of Brexit. Since the vote to ‘leave’ the EU, the impact on the GBP has resulted in an increase in the cost of imported medicines causing the end user to suffer. A paper published by the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) has warned that the UK pharmaceutical industry should prepare for a ‘crisis Brexit scenario’1. The paper also warned that ‘as things stand the UK faces a sharp hike in regulation and stringent checks on medicine exports from March 30th 2019. Dr Virginia Acha, executive director of research, medical and innovation at ABPI, has estimated that the restructuring costs arising from UK pharma companies taking up the EMA’s guidance would run to hundreds of millions of pounds.’2

In addition to Brexit the UK has suffered an unprecedented amount of shortages in 2017 leading many hospital pharmacies to seek unlicensed alternatives. UL Medicines have witnessed a much higher level of shortages in the market resulting in more time being spent on sourcing products. These continued shortages are undoubtedly having an effect on patients and will continue to do so as the EMA’s guidance changes. In a warning letter written to the EU chief negotiator Michel Barnier and UK Brexit Minister David Davis concerning Brexit it was suggested that an unorderly Brexit ‘would lead to a severe disruption of most companies’ supply chains, which would lead to potential supply disruptions of life-saving medicines.’3

Despite the challenges facing the industry, hospital pharmacies have remained strong and adapted. At this moment in time UL Medicines have over 390 different unlicensed medicines held as stock items which amounts to more than 120,000 packs. In addition to stocked lines UL Medicines receive in the region of 250-300 deliveries (every month) from suppliers all around the world equating to over 25,000 packs (8,200 of which we foreign over-label).

UL Medicines are looking forward to 2018, now part of the Clinigen Group, we have an even wider portfolio to offer our customers and are excited about the forthcoming opportunities. The next twelve months will see UL Medicines prepare for the introduction of serialisation and the Falsified Medicines Directive ahead of the changes being introduced across the EU in February 2019. Furthermore, as the deadline for the Carter report draws closer, the team at UL Medicines will be continuing to develop their EDI trading capabilities. Brexit will of course remain a top priority for UL Medicines and the industry, but we are focused on ensuring that the coming challenges are being considered every step of the way with the supply of unlicensed, hard to source, and niche products at the forefront of our minds.

1 Withers, Ian. The Telegraph. ‘UK pharma sector faces 'crisis' without early Brexit deal’ 2017. Web. November 2017 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2017/06/01/uk-pharma-sector-faces-crisis-without-early-brexit-deal/

2 Withers, Ian. The Telegraph. ‘UK pharma sector faces 'crisis' without early Brexit deal’ 2017. Web. November 2017 http://www.telegraph.co.uk/business/2017/06/01/uk-pharma-sector-faces-crisis-without-early-brexit-deal/

3 Macdonald, Gareth. In-Pharma Technologist. ‘Unorderly Brexit will cause UK drug shortages ware industry groups’ 2017. Web. November 2017 https://www.in-pharmatechnologist.com/Article/2017/07/17/Unorderly-Brexit-will-cause-UK-drug-shortages-warn-industry-groups