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Epilepsy Society calls for review of UK supply chain following "steep rise" in access issues

Published on 09/04/19 at 01:10pm

The Epilepsy Society has drawn attention to the “steep rise” in UK patients who are encountering difficulty in accessing seizure medication.

While issues around access to these medicines have been or could be further exacerbated by Brexit, the society asserts that this has been a problem for over a decade, and one which Big Pharma has continuously failed to address.

The society has said that its “Helpline and enquiries desk inundated with worried callers”, and the added anxiety and stress is compounding the risk of seizures in patients.

To tackle the problem, the society is calling on Health Secretary Matt Hancock to instigate a review of the UK’s medicines supply chain and “get a better deal” for those with epilepsy and other long-term conditions.

“Without a consistent supply, a breakthrough seizure can occur, meaning that a person with epilepsy may lose their licence, lose their job and lose their quality of life," explained Epilepsy Society Chief Executive Clare Pelham. “It is simply not good enough for drugs manufacturers to say “production issues” or “just-in-time manufacture problems” and shrug their shoulders whenever a shortage occurs.  People with epilepsy deserve better.

“It’s not a great deal in life to have to rely on regular medication to maintain your quality of life.  Surely the least that we can do – Government, charities and the pharmaceutical industry – is to work together to ensure that the supply of this essential medication is reliable every day, every week, and every month-year in and year out.  So that when the Brexit spotlight has moved on, people with epilepsy will be in a much better place.

"Epilepsy Society would be delighted to work with Mr Hancock and the pharmaceutical industry to achieve consistent and reliable drug supplies for the people we support,” she added.

The society’s Medical Director, Professor Ley Sander, also remarked: “It is vital that clinicians have the most up to date information around any supply issues so that we can discuss these with our patients and forge a plan together. Epilepsy is a long-term health condition that can be very difficult to manage – it can often take many years to fine-tune a person’s treatment to ensure maximum seizure control with minimum side effects.  It is vital that doctors are fully informed of any issues around medicines supplies so that we can make plans to provide the best treatment available for our patients.

“Fundamental to dealing with this issue is the need for transparent and honest communication. It is vital that clinicians have the most up to date information around any supply issues so that we can discuss these with our patients and forge a plan together.”

Matt Fellows

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