Beattie calls for urgent action over Protocol medicines supply problems to Northern Ireland
URGENT action is required to protect the supply of vital medicines to the north from Britain, Ulster Unionist leader Doug Beattie has warned.
Mr Beattie has written to EU Commission Vice President Maroš Šefcovic to highlight what he describes as the "harmful impact"of the Northern Ireland Protocol on the supply chain.
Concerns have been raised in recent months about reduced access to a lung cancer drug for patients due to the Brexit Protocol agreement.
Since January 1, medicines for Northern Ireland and Britain are regulated under different regimes.
The north is now bound by the decisions of the European Medicines Agency (EMA), while the rest of the UK can make its own decisions - and is currently fast tracking certain cancer treatments
Mr Beattie said the "importance of this week and next in resolving this issue cannot be overestimated" as the "pharmaceutical industry must give the Department of Health six months’ notice of discontinuations to the UK market".
A six months grace period for medicines' regulation will end on December 31.
In his letter, Mr Beattie states: "I trust that you agree it would be entirely unreasonable and unacceptable for citizens in Northern Ireland to no longer have the same access to the full range of medicines as citizens in the rest of the United Kingdom."
He added that he had spoken to his party colleague and health minister Robin Swann about the "options" being explored to address the issue.
"I urge you to look at the proposals favourably and urgently," he wrote.