UK parallel export bans on "crucial" medicines to combat COVID-19

01 April 2020

Last week the UK government imposed a ban on the parallel export of 80 "crucial" medicines, to ensure a continuity of supply to the National Health Service during the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak. The precautionary measure comes at a time of heightened demand for medicines all over Europe, and seeks to protect UK patients receiving treatment in intensive care units.



To ensure that critically ill patients in the UK can receive the treatments they need, medicines such as paracetamol, insulin, adrenaline and morphine can no longer be put for parallel export.

Parallel exports occur when a company buys medicines already placed in "free circulation" on a certain market, e.g. the UK, to sell in another country at a higher price. Such activity has the potential to cause or aggravate supply problems in the country of export.

This development is particularly important to holders of wholesale dealer licences, who may face tough enforcement action from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency, and ultimately risk losing their trading licence should they breach the new parallel export ban.

To avoid unnecessary sanctions, we recommend that all licence holders now consult the complete list of restricted medicines, before supplying a medicine for parallel export.

A full list of medicines that cannot be parallel exported can be accessed on the Gov.uk website.


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