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Coronavirus: Drug shortages and parallel exports – What do I need to know?


United Kingdom

More than 80 crucial medicines used to treat coronavirus patients have been banned from parallel export from the UK.

We are all navigating unchartered waters as business and society faces up to the impact of COVID-19.  We very much hope you and your loved ones remain in good health. 

 Please be assured that Fieldfisher is continuing to work with clients to navigate COVID-19 related issues and on business as usual needs.  Do get in touch with us if you would like to chat anything through.

As the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic increases rapidly on a daily basis, the UK Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) last week has banned 80 "crucial" medicines which are in high demand across Europe from parallel export, to ensure a consistent supply for UK patients who need them.

The "crucial" medications which include adrenaline, insulin, paracetamol and morphine are commonly used in intensive care units and are needed to treat patients who are seriously ill with Covid-19.

Parallel export of medicines is based on a principle of free circulation of goods and services. This means that medicines can be purchased and sold across national borders, while keeping the international rules of pharmaceutical trade. Parallel exports therefore are medicines that are sold to another European Member State (or even a European country outside the EU) and are then distributed by the parallel importer on its domestic market.

Companies that parallel export a medicine on the ban list from the UK may face tough enforcement action from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) and risk having their trading licence revoked for serious breaches.

The full list of medicines banned from parallel export can be found here.

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