How might the Brexit ‘transition period’ impact on access to medication?

31 January 2020
A doctor talking to a lady in her home.

In this article we explain what the Brexit ‘transition period’ is and what it might mean for access to medication for people with arthritis.

Note: This article outlines what happens after January 31st 2020 during the ‘transition period’. For information about the impact of trade agreements between the UK and the EU after December 2020 read this article.

Note: The Department for Health and Social Care have recently updated information and advice on a ‘no deal’ Brexit available through the NHS. Our article should be read alongside the official advice and frequently asked questions on NHS England’s website.

The UK will no longer be a member of the European Union (EU) after 11pm UK-time Friday 31 January 2020. After this point the UK will enter the ‘transition period’ until 31 December 2020.

What is the ‘transition period’?

After the 31 January, the UK will be legally outside of the EU. However, the UK will still comply with existing EU laws while negotiators establish a new trading relationship with the remaining EU member states.

This means regulation of medicines and medical devices in the UK will still be overseen by the EU’s single system to test, approve and monitor the safety of new and existing treatments and devices.

What might this mean for you?

The ‘transition period’ means that people in the UK will not face any changes in trade or supply of medicines that are manufactured or sourced in the EU.

It should be noted that in normal circumstances the NHS sometimes experiences shortages of drugs and treatments, so any issues in accessing medicines during the transition period are unlikely to be as a result of Brexit.

People should continue to obtain prescriptions and use their medicines in the normal way.

During the ‘transition period’, UK citizens living in the EU, and EU citizens living in the UK, will continue to have access to health and care services as they did before Brexit.

If you are going on holiday outside the UK, the Government continues to advise UK residents to take out travel insurance for any overseas travel.

Other questions?

In the longer term, it is very difficult to fully understand the potential impact of a failure to achieve a trade agreement with the EU and how it might affect the availability of medicines and medical devices used in joint replacement surgery.

However, we will continue to monitor the ongoing situation to ensure that the needs of people with arthritis are considered.

If you would like to speak about any concerns about access to treatments please call our free helpline on 0800 5200 520. Our lines are open from 9am-8pm Monday to Friday.