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Brexit and diabetes

If you’re living with or affected by diabetes, we know you might be worried about how Brexit and leaving the EU may affect things like your diabetes medicines, particularly insulin supplies.

How could Brexit affect diabetes?

The UK is no longer a member of the European Union (EU) and the transition period ended at 11pm on 31 December 2020.

The government reached a deal with the EU which includes rules on how we trade medicines, such as insulin. These rules started on 1 January 2021.

We continue to work with the Department of Health and Social Care to make sure that they are still able to guarantee supply of insulin and diabetes medicines. We'll update you as we get more information, but get in touch with us if you’re worried or having problems getting your diabetes supplies.

Brexit and insulin supplies

The Department for Health and Social Care have confirmed that the government have established an agreement with the EU on medicines, which means supplies of insulin or other medicines should not be interrupted.

The rules and paperwork required when bringing supplies in and out of the EU have changed, which means that some disruption is still possible. But we know the government has measures in place to reduce the risk of this happening.

Insulin in the UK comes from three main pharmaceutical manufacturers – Lilly, Sanofi and Novo Nordisk. These suppliers currently import insulin from outside of the UK. We understand that these insulin suppliers will keep at least six weeks stock of insulin in the UK to reduce potential disruption.

Other diabetes medicines

We’ve supported government calls to suppliers of other diabetes medicines too, asking them to keep six weeks of stock in the UK.

Many medicines, such as metformin or gliclazide, are made by a large range of companies in the UK so it's unlikely that suppliers will have stock problems.

If you use insulin or other medicines to manage your diabetes, it's best to be prepared and order your repeat prescription at least 14 days before you're due to collect it. You don't need to ask for extra medicine – stockpiling could put other people at risk of shortages.

Brexit and diabetes technology 

Medical devices (including diabetes technology) are also included in the government's plans to protect supplies.

Some types of diabetes tech, like Abbott's FreeStyle Libre (a flash glucose monitor), are made in the UK and so shouldn’t be affected.

If you use diabetes technology, like pumps or a continuous glucose monitor, it's always a good idea to keep a small supply of pen needles, lancets and test strips as back up in case of a technical failure or delay in a part being replaced.

Food supplies

You shouldn't need to stockpile food, as this can cause shortages for others. If you have problems getting the food you need, contact your local council for ways they can support you.

Brexit and healthcare abroad 

UK residents continue to have access to emergency and necessary healthcare when they travel to the EU, operating like the European Health Insurance Card (EHIC) scheme.

A new UK Global Health Insurance Card (GHIC) has replaced the existing EHIC. You'll still be able to use your EHIC after 1 January 2021 when travelling to the EU until it expires. And if you're travelling to the UK from the EU, you'll be able to keep using your EHIC too.

As usual, it's important to get travel insurance with medical cover when travelling anywhere out of the UK.

If you're a UK citizen living in the EU, or an EU citizen living in the UK, you will still be able to access healthcare but you need to register on the government website. Use the Brexit checker to get a list of things you need to check or change.

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