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Ireland urges people not to stockpile medicines ahead of Brexit

Ireland’s Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Coveney poses for a photograph in Dublin, Ireland, February 15, 2019. REUTERS/Hannah McKay

DUBLIN (Reuters) – Ireland’s deputy prime minister on Tuesday called on people not to stockpile medicine before Britain quits the European Union, saying the country had at least eight weeks of supply and was moving to source medicines from other EU countries.

Despite its large pharmaceutical industry, Ireland relies on Britain for many medicines. Some of them may not be approved for use in the EU if Britain leaves on March 29 without a deal, Simon Coveney told RTE radio.

Ireland has eight to 12 weeks’ supply of virtually all medicines in Ireland, Coveney said.

“There aren’t any medicines that are on any kind of risk list in terms of not being supplied after the end of March, but we will continue to monitor that very closely to make sure there is no delay in supply,” he said.

“Pharmacists and people in general should not be stockpiling medicines because actually stockpiling in itself sometimes causes problems with supply,” he added.

Britain has told its residents the same thing. Stockpiling “risks shortages … if everyone does what they are supposed to, we are confident the supply of medicines will continue uninterrupted,” said Stephen Hammond, the health minister responsible for Brexit.

Coveney was speaking before a meeting of the Irish cabinet to approve legislation preparing for the possibility Britain will be forced to leave the EU with no agreement on the terms of its departure, even though the Irish government has said repeatedly that it does not expect this outcome.

“While we have a huge amount of contingency planning in place … I wouldn’t like to give the impression that we could easily manage a no-deal Brexit,” Coveney said. “It would put huge strain on the Irish economy.”

Britain is supposed to leave the EU on March 29, but it still has no deal in place on the terms. Last week, the British parliament defeated Prime Minister Theresa May’s latest effort to gain approval for her Brexit strategy.

Reporting by Conor Humphries, editing by Larry King

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