The view of the SNP is for Scotland to remain in the EU – something we voted for in 2016. Already we are seeing the effect of a medicines shortage due to personal and organisational stockpiling as the number of concessions the Pharmaceutical Services Negotiating Committee (PSNC) applied for went up from 45 in October 2018 to 87 in December 2018.
This UK government has asked pharmaceutical companies to stockpile medicines as part of a UK-wide, no-deal contingency plan. Regrettably, the Scottish Government is also having to stockpile medicines in the event of a possible no-deal Brexit. This is a necessary step of any responsible government. However, if the UK government were to take no-deal off the table then it would remove the risk of a medicine shortages.
The SNP in Westminster and up in Holyrood have continually called for this to happen. On Tuesday 29th January, SNP MPs voted to have the UK government take ‘no deal’ off the table. SNP MPs and MSPs have also called on the UK government to extend the Article 50 timetable for negotiations as well as legislate for a second EU referendum.
As we approach Brexit day on 29th March, the UK government is rushing through legislation without any scrutiny. This is compounded by the Westminster system not being transparent to the public. It is clear that the Westminster system is broken and simply does not work for Scotland.
Last week SNP MP Philippa Whitford discovered that one piece of legislation being snuck through gives powers to the UK Health Secretary to place a drug on to the Serious Shortage Protocol if there are supply problems. This gives the pharmacist the legal power to change the strength, quantity or make of any drug in short supply or to dispense a totally different drug which they think is a reasonable replacement.
We SNP MPs in Westminster are trying to use any means at our disposal to ensure that such pieces of legislation are debated and voted on so ensure the continued quality of medicines within the UK.
However, the safest route to ensure all medicines are readily available is to ensure an extension of Article 50 with the aim of remaining in the EU, which the people of Scotland voted for.