Cooperation and negotiation key to continuing a secure supply of medicines to Northern Ireland: PAGB CEO gives evidence to House of Lords
Today PAGB Chief Executive, Michelle Riddalls, appeared as an expert witness before a House of Lords committee to give evidence on behalf of the OTC sector on the supply of medicines and medical devices to Northern Ireland. She emphasised how hard work and negotiations over the past two years between the sector, the UK Government and the EU have ensured that barriers to accessing OTC medicines and medical devices have not arisen.
In her previous evidence submission in 2021, Michelle had called for a politically negotiated solution to help ensure continued supply of OTC medicines and medical devices to Northern Ireland. PAGB had been working hard to help identify issues and propose solutions to bring its expertise to the ongoing technical discussions to ensure that access to these products was maintained post-Brexit.
Accordingly, today Michelle highlighted the value of the change in the legislation made by the EU, which was the summation of the detailed technical agreements between the two parties. The outcome of this has helped to address the concerns that we had about the future supply of medicines to Northern Ireland and the UK.
She emphasised that any further actions required to solve outstanding issues in medicine and medical devices, should be via a negotiated solution, rather than unilateral action as proposed in the Northern Ireland Protocol Bill.
Michelle set out the OTC sector’s concerns at potential regulatory divergence which could lead to additional costs and barriers to the supply of medicines in Northern Ireland.
She also welcomed the improved tone we have seen in the rhetoric recently from both sides and emphasised our hope for a further negotiated solution which would solve the outstanding issues.
Michelle says: “It was an honour to have the opportunity to represent the UK OTC sector and PAGB as an expert witness at today’s House of Lords evidence session on the Northern Ireland Protocol.
“Two years ago there was a very real risk that Brexit and the Northern Ireland Protocol could have threatened the supply of medicines and medical devices to Northern Ireland
“Hard work, technical discussions and positive negotiations over the last few years have ensured that most of the potential barriers have been resolved.
“While there are a few remaining issues which still need resolving – this should happen via a negotiated solution.
“We are encouraged by the improvements in tone we have seen by both sides in recent discussions and we are looking forward to a long-term sustainable solution which works in the interests of patients and consumers in Northern Ireland. This would be infinitely preferable from our perspective to unilateral action by either party.
“I am pleased to have represented the OTC sector and grateful to the committee for the opportunity to give evidence.”
Notes to editors:
PAGB, the consumer healthcare association, represents the manufacturers of branded OTC medicines, self-care medical devices and food supplements in the UK.
For further information please contact Farhana Hawthorn, Media and Public Affairs Manager, Farhana.hawthorn@PAGB.co.uk, 07522616526
Michelle Riddalls, Chief Executive of PAGB
Michelle was previously PAGB’s Senior Director of Regulatory Affairs and Advertising Services. In this role she led the regulatory affairs and advertising services functions of the association, including copy clearance. Michelle is an expert in consumer healthcare regulation and has received awards from TOPRA for her work in prescription only medicine (POM) to over-the-counter reclassifications.
Michelle has worked in consumer healthcare for almost two decades. In her time at Pfizer Consumer Healthcare, she was integral in the highly successful POM to GSL reclassification of Nexium Control and, more recently, the Viagra Connect POM to pharmacy (P) switch.