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EU proposals to ensure UK medicine supplies to Cyprus

The European Commission has presented a list of measure to ensure the continued long-term supply of medicines to Cyprus, Malta and Northern Ireland from the UK.

Historically, medicines in Cyprus have been primarily sourced through the UK. However, Brexit has resulted in smaller and rarer shipments, as well as increased difficulties for pharmaceutical companies in Britain to comply with EU laws, both serious issues especially during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Therefore, throughout the past weeks, the European Commission and the UK government have held extensive talks to find a long-term solution as far as medicines’ exports are concerned.

In order to address the situation and avoid shortages of medicines, Cyprus, along with Ireland and Malta will benefit from certain exceptions for a period of three years.

During this period, Cypriot importers of medicines from the UK will not need to hold manufacturing authorisations, nor will these medicines need to be batch tested again if they have already been tested in the UK. This will give operators more time to adapt. Work on a long-term permanent solution is ongoing in the context of the EU’s Pharmaceutical Strategy.

Moreover, under certain conditions and only for justified public health reasons, Cyprus will be able to authorise the distribution on its national market of medicinal products authorised in the UK.

The extended deadline granted to the island by the European Commission aims to give operators in Cyprus time to adapt to the changes brought by Brexit and find new permanent EU partners.

The agreement does not involve veterinary medicines, for which separate discussions will take place in the upcoming weeks.

Commenting the decision, European Commission Vice-President for Interinstitutional Relations and Foresight Maros Sefcovic said he had promised to do whatever it takes to ensure the continued supply of medicines to these markets.

“Even more so in light of these challenging times of the pandemic. I am convinced that the issue of medicines shows that the EU and the UK can work together,” he said.

Elsewhere, the European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety Stella Kyriakides said the EU is well aware of how important the UK market is for Cyprus in terms of medicines’ supply.

“We all know how crucial the continuous supply of medicines is for hundreds of thousands of patients in Cyprus, Ireland, Northern Ireland and Malta, whose markets are historically dependent on medicines from the UK.

“In the past months, we have remained committed to finding a solution which would work for all citizens. Our objective is to ensure that they can continue to get the medicines they need, at all times.

“Now we have to act swiftly to see these proposals adopted and I call on the European Parliament and the Council to adopt them as soon as possible,” Kyriakides concluded.

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