Halloween may be an extra scary time for people living with diabetes, this year. Thursday October 31st is deadline day for Brexit and while the government have given assurances of medicines and medical devices being stockpiled in the event of a delay in importing, many people with diabetes are taking matters into their own hands… and with potentially dangerous consequences.
The Times reported that: Clinicians have reported a dangerous phenomenon in recent months: diabetic patients are limiting their daily doses of insulin.”
“Patients are informally building their own stockpiles by giving themselves less insulin on a daily basis,” said an industry source, warning of the potentially “extremely dangerous” consequences.
Ensuring continued access to medicines has been a cornerstone of the government’s Brexit contingency planning. The Department of Health and Social Care has requested that manufacturers build up an additional six weeks’ supply of medicines to provide a buffer in the event of gridlock at Dover. They have also organised ferries to provide extra routes into the UK.
Most British people with diabetes are dependent on insulin imported from the EU, manufactured by Danish pharmaceuticals firm Novo Nordisk, and Sanofi, based in France.
Brexit has exacerbated fears that some medicines already in short supply will become unavailable. Manufacturing problems last year at the Italian factory that makes Sinemet, a treatment for Parkinson’s disease, led to an international shortage.
NHS bosses have also said hospitals across the UK are experiencing drug shortages because of stockpiling and price pressure as the Brexit deadline approaches.
Meanwhile, Sanofi, one of the UK’s largest suppliers of flu jabs, has warned of a “pinch point” ahead of this winter. The company, which makes many of its drugs in France, intends to divert crucial medicines through the Essex port of Harwich instead of Dover if there is Brexit disruption.
The Department of Health has also lined up air-freight and other routes into the UK, prioritising medicines and medical products. It has secured warehouse space for stockpiled medicines and handed emergency powers to pharmacists, who can switch patients to similar drugs in the event of a shortage.
However, the suggestion that patients are limiting their own intake has alarmed the industry.
Are you stockpiling insulin ahead of October 31st? Leave a comment below and let us know your thoughts.