Cyprus Mail

Cyprus’ pharmaceutical sector still experiencing Brexit-related drug shortages

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A complete shortage of a blood thinner drug dose is recorded in Cyprus due to Brexit, with health officials urging patients to show solidarity and buy only what they need.

Almost two years after the UK ceased being a member of the European Union, the island is still experiencing the consequences in its pharmaceutical sector.

The largest quantities of warfarin, a medicine preventing blood clots, used to be imported to Cyprus from a UK based company, with whom collaboration ended after Brexit. Since then, another pharmaceutical company, that used to supply small quantities of the drug to the island, has been called on to supply the entire market.

However, a recent shortage of the drug in 5 milligrams has prompted relevant authorities to a public plea, urging patients to avoid purchasing additional stocks, so that everyone can access the necessary dose of warfarin.

“Warfarin of 5 milligrams is out of stock. The supplier company has said it has no more quantities to deliver,” senior official at the health insurance organisation Panayiotis Petrou told the Cyprus Mail.

However, some pharmacies in Cyprus may still have the specific dose, Petrou said, while 1 milligram and 3 milligrams are still available.

The drug is the sole choice for those who had a heart valve replacement.

Procedures are underway to bring a small quantity of the specific drug to the local market by the end of the week, while the supply is expected to stabilise by the beginning of 2023, Petrou said.

Until then, pharmacies have been notified to inform patients and check when they fill in their subscriptions as to avoid people stocking up with excessive quantities of Warfarin.

“We don’t want someone to have large stock at home and another patient to have nothing,” the senior HIO official said.

Although in the past the situation was “extremely difficult”, Petrou explained how the pharmaceutical market has sought alternative markets and has gradually adjusted.

But he added that another major shortage is also recorded in immunoglobulin (IG) globally due to the pandemic, with efforts underway to seek even small quantities of the medicine.  Immunoglobulin, used in therapy to strengthen the immune system, has been in shortage around the world for over a year.

“Especially now with the consequences of a global pandemic, it is important that every one of us helps as much as we can,” Petrou said.

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