Supply of special foods imported for sick newborns at risk if hard Brexit triggered

The supply of vital nutrition for sick or premature infants could be in jeopardy if there is a hard Brexit.

Around 15pc of the feeding known as total parenteral nutrition (TPN) is imported into Ireland from the UK.

Concern about the supply of the feeding, which has a short shelf-life and is given to the baby intravenously to provide nutrients, is understood to be highlighted in the Government’s contingency plan for a cliff-edge Brexit to be outlined this week.

Meanwhile, the Health Products Regulatory Authority (HPRA), the medicines watchdog, said for many medicines licensed in Ireland, the licence holder is a UK-based company.

“For each of those medicines, the licence must be transferred to an EU-based holder by March 29, 2019,” it said.

“Normally, where the licence holder changes, all packaging must be updated to reflect this prior to any further batch of that medicine being certified for the Irish market – this can take some time.

“However, for licence transfers directly related to Brexit and to facilitate continuity of supply, the HPRA has agreed that stock bearing the details of the UK-based licence holder can continue to be batch certified for Ireland for six months post transfer of the licence. On a case-by-case basis this period may be extended following discussions with the HPRA.

“The HPRA is committed to minimising the impact of Brexit on the supply of medicines to Irish patients and we are working to address all issues under our remit relating to Brexit.

“We are engaging with stakeholders involved in the supply of medicines to ensure that actions consistent with Irish and EU law are taken to minimise any potential disruption to the supply of medicines that may be transported to Ireland from or through the UK.

“We are also working closely with other State organisations who have roles which are relevant to the supply of medicines including the HSE and Revenue Customs to ensure a co-ordinated approach.

“This approach takes into account specific considerations such as the transport of medicines that are temperature sensitive and which may have a limited shelf-life.

“The HPRA has no role in relation to the purchase of medicines.

“Our Brexit planning involves proactive actions to facilitate the continued supply of all medicines and minimise the impact on patients and healthcare professionals. However, where any issues in relation to supply of a specific medicine are identified, the HPRA will work with others.”

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