We fight to improve the lives
of everyone affected by epilepsy

No-deal Brexit: access to epilepsy medicines

24 Aug 2018

What’s happened?

The government has released more information about the possible impact of a no-deal Brexit on the UK healthcare sector. This includes the steps being taken to ensure that patients are able to access the medical supplies they need in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Epilepsy Action are pleased that the government has stepped up preparations for a possible no-deal Brexit and provided more practical details. A major focus of today’s announcements is ensuring that medicines remain available to those who need them, whatever the outcome of Brexit.

While the information below is focussed on a potential no-deal situation, the government remains committed to securing a deal with the European Union (EU) before we leave. As part of this deal, the government has committed to negotiating continued membership of the European Medicines Agency (EMA).

Epilepsy Action believe that the best outcome for the UK healthcare sector and for people with epilepsy is for the UK to remain a member of the EMA. This would limit the potential negative impact of Brexit on healthcare and access to medicines.

The Health Minister, Matt Hancock, has reassured patients that they will not need to store additional supplies of medicines at home. The government is confident that the plans set out below will ensure that medicines including antiepileptic drugs continue to be available from the moment we leave the EU, deal or no-deal.

The government’s advice is largely aimed at pharmaceutical companies but it should also provide some reassurance to people with epilepsy.

 What has the government said?

There are two main strands to today’s announcements. These are planning for the continued supply of medicines and batch testing regulations.

Planning for the continued supply of medicines [source]

The government recognises that a no-deal Brexit could affect the availability of medicines and other medical products in the UK.

The Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) is working with pharmaceutical companies to ensure the UK has an additional 6-week supply of medicines. This will make sure medicines are available immediately after Brexit even if imports of medicines from the EU are affected by a no-deal situation.

This 6-week supply will be in addition to the normal levels of surplus medicines held by pharmaceutical companies.

The DHSC has also launched the Medicines Supply Contingency Planning Programme. This programme will work with suppliers of UK medicines that come from or through the EU to ensure suitable contingency plans are in place for a no-deal Brexit. The government will provide practical support to suppliers where necessary.

Batch testing regulations [source]

There were concerns that a no-deal Brexit could mean that the UK would have to change how it tested and regulated licensed medicines. This is because at present the UK is a member of the European Medicines Agency (EMA). This EU wide regulatory agency oversees the testing and authorising of licensed medicines for use in EU countries.

In the event of a no-deal Brexit, the UK would no longer be part of the EMA. This could affect the availability of medicines in the UK.

The government has announced that the UK will not require licensed medicines that have been tested by the EMA to be retested before being made available in the UK after Brexit. This should ensure that medicines manufactured in or imported through the EU would continue to be available in the UK in the event of a no-deal situation.

Moving forward

Epilepsy Action welcomes the reassurances from the government about the continued availability of medicines in the UK, deal or no deal.

The Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock, has said that;

‘The Government has plans in place to ensure a continued supply of medicines to patients from the moment we leave the EU. Patients will not need to and should not seek to store additional medicines at home’ [SoS letter to health and care sector]

We will continue to monitor this issue closely as the Brexit deadline approaches. This will include ensuring the voice of the epilepsy community is heard and providing information for people with epilepsy as more details are made available.

Epilepsy Action believe that the best outcome for the UK healthcare sector and for people with epilepsy is for the UK to remain a member of the EMA. This would limit the potential negative impact of Brexit on healthcare and access to medicines.

Comments: read the 11 comments or add yours


We and our MPs need to be so sure that the active ingredients and exipients of our epilepsy medicines stay consistent whether we have a brexit deal or no deal in 2019. It is so important that treatment for the condition is kept the same especially when a successful medicinal treatment dose is reached which can take years of experiments in dosages to find the right one. Mine took 40 years and at last the perseverance has worked.

Submitted by Maggie on

As a mum of a daughter with epilepsy and other condition , I am very fearful . I do not have much faith in this government, as consistently things have not been good. I am hoping we will have resolution with the rest of europe. however it is good to know you are monitoring this carefully.

Submitted by christina evans on

Christina's message expresses my thoughts exactly. Please use our justified anxiety as added weight to the pressure on the government to ensure a safe supply of medicine. There is no satisfactory alternative to the present combination of anti-seizure drugs, in the correct dosage at correct strength. Multiple tonic clonic seizures would be the result of even 24 hours without them. Thank you.

Submitted by Elizabeth Jordan on

Hard to find out whether Tegretol is made in the UK or is imported and so at risk following a chaotic brexit.

Is there any lookup website known to the Association?11

Submitted by martin on

My question is essentially the same as Martin's. I have been trying to find out where Primidone is manufactured. The company producing it is French, but I have not been able to find out if that is also the country of production.
The Government has given assurances about the stockpiling of medicines but as this drug is no longer widely prescribed, I do not feel confident that it will be included in the medicines being stockpiled.

Is there any way of finding out the country of manufacture of this medicine?

Many thanks

Submitted by Sheila on

Hi all, I experienced in late December a shortage in epilim 500 chrono, I had to get 200 and 300 chrono to make it up a bit annoying but manageable, today when I went to collect my prescription it had been changed to a generic 500 gastro ( not chrono) I was unsure to take it or not? I have enough medication to cover me for a week and will contact my gp tomorrow as decided not to take it as 200 and 300 epilim chrono would be better if there is a supplier issue.
Just not sure what epilim 500 gastro is? And how it would effect me as believe it would be different to the chrono in the way the medication releases, I am also really disappointed my gp didn’t contact me first as my medication is my life.
Any thoughts. Thanks james

Submitted by James thackray on

Hi James

You’re right that Epilim gastro-resistant tablets release in a different way to the chrono tablets. The chrono tablets release gradually into the bloodstream over a few hours. Gastro-resistant are not absorbed until they pass through the stomach, but once their coating has dissolved they release quickly into the bloodstream.

We’re not able to say if or how this difference would affect you, but hopefully you’ve managed to reach your GP for advice. Sanofi has told us that Epilim Chrono 500 tablets will be back with pharmacists on the 12th or 13th of February. They’ve also released a statement about the recent supply problems.

Kind regards


Epilepsy Action Helpline Team

Submitted by rich on

If the above statement is true then why is my pharmacy unable to get any of my son's slow release tegratol p my the non slow release which are not effective for his condition just more lies and the general public ate left to suffer.

Submitted by Valerie thompson on

I have Epilepsy that is fully controlled by Epilim Chrono 300 (4 twice a day).
I have not been able to get a promise from my GP, my Pharmacist, my MP, Sanofi or even the NHS that I will be guaranteed to receive this vital medication.
Epilim has changed my life, what am I to do?

Submitted by Gareth Bowen on

Hi Gareth,

You might find our latest blog about Brexit helpful: https://www.epilepsy.org.uk/about/blog/2019/brexit-and-epilepsy-where-are-we-now

Medicine shortages can occur for a number of reasons not related to Brexit, for which there is a serious shortage protocol, which you can read about here: https://www.epilepsy.org.uk/about/blog/2019/what-does-serious-shortage-protocol-mean-people-epilepsy

We are continuing to seek greater clarity around Brexit and will be posting updates on our website and social media. It might be a good idea to keep an eye on our Drugwatch page for updates concering particular medicines: https://www.epilepsy.org.uk/news/blogs/Drugwatch

I hope this helps.


Epilepsy Action

Submitted by Josh - Epilepsy... on

I live in Spain Andalucia region. I am a british citizen but moved to Spain four years ago. Today I found out that there is a shortage of Primidone and the doctors want to change my medication. this has made me very anxious and annoyed to think this could be down to brexit.

Submitted by Jeanette Haycock on
Question about your epilepsy?

Your question will be sent to our helpline advisors.

Have a comment about this page?

All comments are reviewed by a moderator before publishing. Comments will be edited or deleted if they are offensive, libellous, slanderous, abusive, commercial or irrelevant.

We ask for your email when you make a comment through this website. This means that we can let you know directly that we have replied to you. By making a comment through the website, you allow us to use the comment in our publicity without using your name. If we would like to use your name, we will email you to get your permission.

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.
17 + 0 =
Solve this simple math problem and enter the result. E.g. for 1+3, enter 4.