Epilepsy medications will not be rationed in the event of a no-deal Brexit

11th March 2019

The deadline for Brexit is getting ever closer as the UK is set to leave the EU on 29th March 2019. However, many things are still up in the air and the manner of the departure is still unclear. One option is a “no deal Brexit”, which many experts feel will have a big impact on the availability of medications that are sourced from EU countries.

As a result of this, in December the UK government outlined plans to ration medication to avoid the possibility of dangerously low stock levels. This plan would give unprecedented power to pharmacists that would see them able to change prescriptions to lower quantities with no need to obtain permission from the prescribing GP. It would also allow them to change the medication prescribed if required. A scary thought for many who rely on receiving their correct medication in a consistent quantity.

Of course, more so than many others, with epilepsy medications, it is extremely important that patients receive the same brand of medication and dosage consistently. A sudden change to a brand of medication or dosage can have a huge impact and lead to increased frequency and severity of seizures if not correctly managed by a neurologist or healthcare professional. In more extreme cases it could even lead to a fatal accident or potentially sudden unexpected death in epilepsy (SUDEP)

Fear that medication rationing may affect thousands of people who rely on their prescription led to a number of organisations penning an open letter to Health Secretary, Matt Hancock. The letter stressed a number of key points, most importantly that it was crucial for epilepsy medication plan to be worked out between a doctor and a patient, with no exceptions. It read: “No change to prescription should be made without checking with the prescribing clinician and the patient”. This need is especially important where a person may take more than one type of epilepsy medication, a combination that will have required the expertise of an experienced clinician and could not be replicated by a pharmacist.

It seems that the letter, alongside pressure from other epilepsy groups, has worked and the government has pledged that epilepsy medications will not be amongst those rationed in the event of a no-deal Brexit. This will no doubt come as a relief to the many people who have epilepsy in the UK and their families.

Whilst this is reassuring, various groups are also seeking further assurances that those with epilepsy will continue to receive the same high level of care they are accustomed to in the event of a no deal Brexit.

“It’s paramount that people with epilepsy have consistency in their brand of medication. So it’s a great relief to myself and my clients that the potential of a no deal Brexit will have zero impact on their ability to source the correct medications.” – Jan Bagshaw, Epilepsy Expert Consultant, National Epilepsy Training

National Epilepsy Training can help

For more information on epilepsy medications or to enquire about our care and training services, please feel free to call us on 01706 373075 or email admin@nationalepilepsytraining.co.uk.