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Brexit and MS

The outcome of the 2019 general election makes it extremely likely that Boris Johnson will be able to pass the withdrawal agreement he negotiated with the European Union. This will take the UK out of the EU and its institutions by 31 January.

We know Brexit leaves a lot of uncertainty for people across the UK. So we’ve looked at all the information to see what this means for the MS community.

What does the withdrawal agreement mean for my medicines?

The withdrawal agreement means that until 31 December 2020, we'll remain in a transition period while the UK Government and the EU work out its future trading relationship. During this period, the UK will continue to import goods freely from Europe as it does now. This will avoid a sudden disruption to the supply of medicines and medical devices.

Until we know what the final trading arrangements with the EU are, it’s difficult to tell whether there'll be extra costs or delays for medicines and other supplies. We'll be keeping a close eye on this.

Should I be stockpiling my medicines?

Storing prescribed medicines could mean you’re not following your doctor’s recommendations on when they should be taken. It could also lead to medication going out of date.

We’ve been assured that there are arrangements in place to avoid any shortages.

For now, you should follow your doctor’s advice and avoid stockpiling prescribed medicines. If your doctor or pharmacist has told you anything different, please email us at campaigns@mssociety.org.uk.

Will the cost of my medicines go up?

Prescriptions in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland will remain free. In England, if you currently pay for your prescription, there’s unlikely to be a price increase due to Brexit.

Although prescriptions occasionally increase in cost - this increase would be shared across all medications. This means the set price for a prescription would rise, but a rise should be minimal.

The government in the UK hasn’t indicated that prescription charges would increase as a result of Brexit. We'll be monitoring this closely.

Will the availability of new treatments be affected by Brexit?

There’s still a question about whether the UK will be able to access new medicines as quickly after Brexit.

At the moment, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) is responsible for approving new medicines. But the UK's future relationship with the EMA is yet to be decided.

The body that regulates medicines in the UK is the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulations Agency (MHRA). Both the MHRA and the government have said making our system for licensing drugs as similar as possible to the EU’s is a priority. This should mean we can still access new medicines quickly.

Until we know what the final trading arrangements look like, we don’t know what the new system will be. But the Government has said a system for approving drugs will be in place, whatever the outcome in the Brexit negotiations.

In the meantime, we’re continuing our Treat Me Right campaign to make sure people can get access to the right treatment at the right time. 

Will my care worker be able to remain after Brexit?

Yes. If your care worker is from the EU and has been in the UK for 5 years or more on March 29 this year, they’ll have the right to stay already.

If they have been in the UK for less than 5 years, EU citizens will still have the right to stay in the UK between 30 March 2019 and June 2021. They’ll have to apply to the EU Settlement Scheme during this period for permission to stay in the UK after June 2021.

Are we still campaigning?

Yes. And, together, we’ve been getting louder than ever in recent years. You may have seen us on BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire programme talking about social care. Meanwhile, over 21,000 people have signed a letter to the new Prime Minister calling on immediate action to fix the often humiliating and degrading process of claiming PIP. In January we’ll be taking the letter to Downing Street.

This wouldn’t have been possible without you.

In the past year, 66,505 actions, like signing our petition on ocrelizumab, were taken by our campaigns community. And, by emailing and tweeting your MPs, you’ve helped us reach 98% of them to raise important issues. Like ending the care crisis, scrapping the PIP 20m rule and improving access to treatments.

We’re continuing to campaign, in partnership with other charities, on all of these issues and more.

Join our campaigns community to hear more about our campaigns and take action on important issues.

We updated this blog on 17 December 2019.

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