The UK Community Advisory Board has issued a statement on Brexit, HIV and access to HIV medication as the chance of a ‘no deal’ Brexit increases.

UK-CAB logo

Yesterday, Wednesday 18 December 2018, the UK-CAB released a statement to help people living with HIV be prepared any treatment supply problems that might arise from the UK’s forthcoming exit from the European Union.

The UK-CAB, a member organisation made up of over 900 individuals from over 120 HIV organisations, released the statement amid a growing sense of anxiety from the HIV community. This anxiety stems from a lack of information and clarity on the impact Brexit will have on HIV treatment, and limited information on any preparation work underway.

The statement, which can also be found on the UK-CAB website, reads as follows:

“As a peer-led HIV advocacy project, the UK Community Advisory Board (UK-CAB), like many other organisations, is concerned about the impact Brexit will have on access to medicines.

Leaving the European Union has the potential to increase the costs of medicines to the NHS, restrict rapid access to new medicines and interrupt supplies of currently approved drugs. The last few weeks have been particularly worrying given the limited planning within the NHS.

As no one can predict what will happen after the proposed leaving date of 29th March 2019, the following recommendations are suggested for HIV positive people to be as prepared as possible for any minor disruptions:

1.    Check now how much medication you have at home. Count the boxes you have and work out how long it will last you.
2.   If you are due to run out of medication before the end of April, it would be better to organise a new prescription in or before March. This will avoid pressuring the NHS when services will be least certain. It will also ensure your treatment will be covered for the first few months after March 2019.

3.    Check the date of your next clinic appointment, or however you access care and medication, and bring this forward if necessary. Please leave enough time for your blood results and medication to be issued well before the end of March.

4.    There is no need to ask for extra supply. Your normal prescription should cover any initial disruption during the first months after April 2019.

Everyone hopes any supply issues, if they arise, will be temporary and short-lived. However, it is in everyone’s best interests to be prepared.

The UK-CAB will continue to seek updates from the relevant authorities and will post further updates when we know more.

If you have any queries regarding this statement please contact the UK-CAB co-ordinator”

A recent report in the BMJ certainly appears to validate the concerns of people living with HIV in the UK.

Their investigation found that only 9% of trusts in England have formal structures in place overseeing preparations for Brexit, and only 25% of trusts had done a risk assessment on the impact of Brexit on services.

The report also highlighted a lack of central government action, planning or guidance with individual trusts being left in the dark.

For another part of the picture beyondpositive reached out to ViiV Healthcare, one of the world’s largest HIV pharmaceutical firms, for information on their Brexit preparation works.

ViiV Healthcare LogoA statement provided by ViiV Healthcare to beyondpositive reads as follows:

“ViiV Healthcare is actively considering the implications Brexit may have on the supply of our HIV medicines and our teams have been working closely with relevant partners, including our majority shareholder GSK, industry bodies and health authorities, to prepare for Brexit.

Both for the short term and long term, we are implementing actions that will prevent delays in the provision of ARVs as we remain committed to ensure access to our medicines for people living with HIV wherever they are.”

With four months left until the UK’s scheduled departure from the European Union the only thing that’s clear is that there’s much work to be done on both preparing for Brexit, and improving communication with patients.

Update (8th January 2019):

Gilead LogoGilead Sciences reached out to beyondpositive and have provided a statement on their contingency planning for Brexit:

“Gilead Sciences, as the manufacturer of a portfolio of medicines used to treat life-threatening diseases, maintains contingency plans in place to address manufacturing, supply and distribution disruptions. We are also preparing for potential issues that might arise in the context of Brexit, and are working with the Department of Health and Social Care to ensure any such issues will not affect the continuity of supply of Gilead products. We are confident that our patients and customers will continue to access our medicines with minimal disruption after 29th March 2019.”

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