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Brexit and insulin supplies – latest government statement
20th March 2019
Stephen Hammond, Minister of Health, stated his officials had spoken that morning to insulin suppliers, who had increased their buffer stocks so that they had 16 weeks of additional stocks over and above their normal supply.
PRESS RELEASE (UPDATED)
Diabetes charity warns a no deal Brexit could put lives at risk
Latest on insulin supplies in the event of no deal Brexit from Parliamentary Questions during the week of February 18th 2019
Ian Murray (Edinburgh South) (Lab)
17. What progress his Department has made on contingency planning for the UK leaving the EU without a deal. 
The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care (Matt Hancock)
Leaving the EU with a deal remains the Government’s top priority, but we are preparing for every eventuality. I am confident that if everyone does what they need to do, the supply of medicines will continue unhindered.
Vicky Ford (Chelmsford) (Con)
Some of my constituents with diabetes have contacted me about supplies of insulin. Will the Secretary of State give us an insulin-specific answer?
Yes. Whereas across all medicines we have requested that the pharmaceutical industry has an extra six weeks of supplies in case of a no-deal Brexit, in the case of insulin the two major providers have already made stockpiles of at least double that. That shows that those with concerns about access to insulin can know that the plans we have in place for insulin are being enacted even more strongly than elsewhere.
Ian Murray (Edinburgh South) (Lab)
But the Secretary of State is refusing to provide any reassurance to constituents up and down the country, and particularly to my constituents. I got an email yesterday from a constituent—I have no shame in quoting this—who said:
"I have type 1 diabetes, as does Theresa May, and the supplies of insulin, needles and blood testing equipment all come from Europe. Insulin is perishable. Without it, so am I."
Will the Secretary of State come to the Dispatch Box and say to my constituents that, whichever disease they have and whichever medical supplies they require, they will get them even if we leave the European Union with no deal?
I have already given the assurance that if everybody does what they need to do, I am confident that supplies will be unhindered. In the case of insulin, the stockpiles are already double what we requested.
Note: the key words here are “if everybody does what they need to do”. We are already aware that understandably, some people are doubling up on their amounts of insulin on their prescriptions.
Original release published February 12th 2019
A diabetes charity has slammed the Government saying it is “gambling with people’s health” amid concerns Brexit may impact on the availability of life-saving insulin supplies.
The InDependent Diabetes Trust (IDDT) has spoken out saying people with the condition using insulin “need guarantees about supply chains because their lives depend on insulin”.
Jenny Hirst, co-chair and co-founder of the organisation, said: “While everyone is getting sick of the whole Brexit debate, insulin-dependent people with diabetes will actually become seriously ill if a no-deal disruptions supply of the life-saving drug.
“MPs need to realise that they are gambling with people’s health. The party political games, the Tory euro infighting, the jousting for the top jobs, it all needs to stop. They all just need to come together to agree a deal to avoid any disruption to essential medisupplies.”
Earlier this month the subject was discussed in the House of Lords with Baroness Mandoor admitting she could not “give copper-bottomed guarantees” that those with diabetes would still have access to insulin after March 29, when the UK is due to leave the EU.
Jenny added: “This is just not good enough, because people with diabetes need guarantees. Their lives depend on insulin. Our members need to know the Government is treating continued insulin supplies as a priority.
“They need clear assurances that everyone with insulin dependent diabetes in the UK will receive the medication they need to stay alive.
“For over 15 years, the IDDT has been collecting unwanted, in-date insulin to send to help people with diabetes in developing countries where people die for lack of insulin. Never did we think that people with diabetes in the UK would have to face the threat of lack of insulin and the subsequent consequences of this.”
According to the IDDT, there are around 421,000 people with type 1 diabetes and round 150,000 people with type 2 diabetes who require insulin to control their condition.
The Northampton-based charity provides vital independent support for people with diabetes, their parents and carers throughout the country.
The charity formed in 1994 to fight for choice of insulin for all. It now provides a free, confidential helpline, has published dozens of helpful publications, stages events and lobbies the government on behalf of its members.
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