Thursday. 18.04.2019
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Finland prepares for the worse Brexit scenario

"Brexit may affect social security", warns the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, which works to prevent unwanted shortages of medicines and medical equipment

Finland prepares for the worse Brexit scenario

Finland is preparing its institutions for the worse Brexit scenario: an immediate withdrawal without any political agreement between the United Kingdom and the European Union (UE).

The Finnish Ministry of Social Affairs and Health announced today on a press release that, together with other authorities and actors, is working to face the consequences of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit.

In a vote held on 15 January, the British Parliament rejected the UK withdrawal agreement from the European Union proposed by the Prime Minister Theresa May. The result of the vote does not mean an immediate withdrawal without any agreement. Further plans of the United Kingdom are expected to be announced within the next few days.

However, Finnish authorities claim to be working to prevent unwanted situations, especially related to eventual shortages in the supplies of medicines and medical equipment, as well as to help pensioners, students and posted workers.

Brexit may affect social security

According to the information provided by the Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, different rules apply to the payment of social security benefits between two countries depending on whether the other country is an EU member state or a country outside the EU.

The withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the EU may –depending on how the withdrawal will be implemented– affect the rights to social security of persons who have moved between Finland and the United Kingdom.

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health has, in cooperation with the Social Insurance Institution of Finland (Kela) and the Finnish Centre for Pensions, looked into the various aspects regarding the right to social security of persons who move or have moved between Finland and the United Kingdom, such as students, pensioners and posted workers.

At the moment, they have just said that “Brexit may affect the payment of benefits to Finnish people in the United Kingdom, and the social security of UK citizens living in Finland”. The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health, the Social Insurance Institution of Finland and the Finnish Centre for Pensions will provide more information as soon as it becomes available.

Abnormal situations in pharmaceutical service

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health admits that “Brexit may affect the availability of some medicines and medical devices in the EU”. Therefore, together with pharmaceutical sector’s authorities and stakeholders, “has explored the potential abnormal situations and the related risks”. “Steps have been taken for several months to prepare for various scenarios”, says the press release.

“If any problems arise, pharmaceutical companies, pharmaceutical wholesalers and pharmacies will work with health care professionals to identify substituting products in order to ensure uninterrupted care to patients,” says Tuija Kumpulainen, Director General.

In order to be granted marketing authorisation in the EU, medicines must meet the standards specified by the EU. If marketing authorisation has been granted in the UK, the pharmaceutical company in question must take steps to transfer the authorisation to another EU country.

According to the Finnish Medicines Agency, the majority of pharmaceutical companies have already transferred their marketing authorisations or activities to an EU or EEA country to make sure their operations can continue normally after Brexit.

Medical devices

Finnish Government warns that “Brexit could also affect the availability of medical devices”. An authorisation procedure similar to the one required for medicines is not required for medical devices, but all devices available in the markets must conform to EU legislation, and the manufacturers are required to have responsible entities in EU member states.

According to the National Supervisory Authority for Welfare and Health, many device manufacturers have already moved their operations to other EU member states, or plan to do so. This way they can largely ensure the availability of devices in the future.

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health adds to this that “situation updates will be provided, and cooperation with other actors in the pharmaceutical and medical device industry will continue in order to effectively manage the availability of medicines and medical devices”.

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