Some epilepsy medicines “cannot be stockpiled”

Published: April 09 2019
Last updated: September 28 2022

On 3 April, BBC Newsnight reported that some medicines, including some for epilepsy, bipolar disorder and neuropathic pain, cannot be stockpiled.

This comes after the Health Secretary Matthew Hancock said in parliament that medical suppliers had been asked to stockpile an extra six-weeks’ worth of medicines. This is to ensure medicine supply continues in all Brexit scenarios.

Newsnight revealed that the NHS has shared a list of the medicines that cannot be stockpiled with just a handful of senior clinicians who had been asked to keep quiet.

Consultant neurologist David Nicholl, one of the recipients, shared the information with Newsnight, saying it is a “public interest issue”. He told Newsnight the problems could have been solved more easily months ago if the documents had been more widely shared.

For people with epilepsy, a shortage of their medicine could impact their quality of life, result in injuries or in extreme circumstances be life-threatening.

The list of specific medicines has not been made public. Reasons for not being able to stockpile them include capacity problems and “disruption in production”.

Epilepsy Action’s chief executive Philip Lee and the chair of the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on epilepsy, Paula Sherriff have written to the health secretary.

They have urged the government to share details of the report and set out what is being done to protect people who would be affected. Epilepsy Action has asked people to get in touch with their local MPs and asking them to raise their concerns with the health secretary.