A no-deal Brexit could see a scheme to stop fake medicines entering Britain scrapped – just seven weeks after its launch, pharmaceutical leaders say.
The new Europe-wide system, which goes live this weekend, means that every person in the medicines supply chain is able to check its authenticity, and ensure counterfeit medication is found.
But pharmaceutical leaders said Britain will drop out of the system, if it exits the EU without a deal.
The Europe-wide Falsified Medicines Directive (FMD) aims to protect patients from falsified or fake medicines.
It will see new-style packaging to prevent tampering, with the aim of securing the supply chain of medicines.
Pharmaceutical manufacturers and importers will also serialise the packaging of their prescription medicines with a unique identifier that is then uploaded to a European database.
Using specifically designed software, wholesalers and others will be able to scan the data matrix on the outer packaging to verify its authenticity as it travels through the supply chain.
However, the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), the trade body for the UK’s branded pharmaceutical industry said a no-deal Brexit would mean the UK drops out of the new system.
As a result, patients in Britian would be left “more exposed to the dangers of fake medicines than other patients in the EU,” they warn.
Dr Rick Greville, director of supply chain at the ABPI, said: “Billions of packs of medicines travel around the EU annually, destined for over 500 million patients.
“This new system means that patients across Europe will have the best protection from fake medicines in the world.
“It would be an absolute travesty if NHS patients aren’t part of a system specifically designed to protect them.
“But that’s exactly what could happen in a no deal Brexit. It is just another reason why we urgently need a Brexit deal.”
A spokesman for the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency said: “The measures in place to protect the medicines you and your family take will continue to be as robust as possible in the event of a no-deal scenario.
“The UK has played an important role in helping to shape the Falsified Medicines Directive and in the event of a no-deal, packs containing the FMD safety features will be accepted in the UK, provided they are in line with other UK packaging requirements.”