Yes, of course, we’ve been regaled with ever sillier lies about the disasters that will befall us all if we were to have the temerity of actually leaving the satrapy of Brussels. But here’s one that really does go over the top. Apparently leaving the European Union will create a shortage of drugs produced in the United States.
IVIg is a blood product used to treat a variety of serious neurological and autoimmune conditions. Each batch is derived from the pooled plasma of thousands of donors, which, as with Spanish salad and strawberries, has to be bought in from abroad. British plasma has not been used in the manufacture of IVIg for two decades because of the risk of transmitting variant Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease (CJD). Today, most of the IVIg used by the NHS is sourced from the United States, a plasma superpower, where donors are paid for their trouble, and processed there or in Europe.
It’s not just CJD which leads to the use of American plasma. There’s nowhere other than the US which is self-sufficient in plasma products. On the simple basis that no one else pays plasma donors, therefore nowhere else has enough plasma to treat all those who would benefit. The answer being that sure, of course we’d all prefer it if empathy and voluntarism supplied all the good things we’d like in this world but as it happens they don’t. Thus we use financial incentives to gain some of those things we do desire. A lesson that I’d rather hope that health care systems would take more to heart. For financial incentives to live donors of kidneys would solve that shortage. As they have, in Iran, which is the only place that does provide financial incentives for live donors of kidneys.
As the political chaos deepened, I kept asking doctors about contingency plans. How would the hospital ensure continuity of supply after Brexit? “I assume there’s a plan,” one neurologist said carefully, “But I don’t know any more about it than you do and I don’t know how I can find out more.” She was not able to tell me who was in charge of the plan, though she indicated it was a matter for government, rather than medical staff. Over recent weeks, several neurologists have been more frank. “The government tells us there’s a NHS plan for no deal, but we haven’t been given any detail. We have no idea how it will work.” Another said the lack of any constructive information means medical staff are unable to make any useful preparations: “Anything could happen. Nothing could change – or we could be looking at utter catastrophe. We just don’t know.” I’ve been desperately hoping for a deal, but one consultant told me this would not necessarily solve the problem: “Will it be the right kind of deal? Because any new process could lead to significant disruption, delays at borders or with extra bureaucracy. And in your case, any kind of a delay could lead quite rapidly to blindness.”
Come on people, why would Brexit cause a shortage of something that comes from the United States?