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New Start-Up and New Hope for Patients Concerned about Losing Access to Medicines in the Wake of Brexit

New Start-Up and New Hope for Patients Concerned about Losing Access to Medicines in the Wake of Brexit
22 October 2018 James Brooke

A new social enterprise start-up is making medical history and one big mission statement by its pledge to make medicines accessible to people around the world, at the same time, wherever they live.

The social enterprise and regulated medicines intermediary called TheSocialMedwork is offering new hope to patients concerned that Brexit could cause delays in essential drugs by using existing personal importation laws to access approved medicines which are not available in the UK.

The process of leaving the European Union could have profound consequences for health and the National Health Service in the UK. Doctors, NHS bosses and pharmaceutical companies have all warned that patients could face interruptions in access to medicines as a result of no-deal Brexit. But TheSocialMedwork has an ingenious solution and can help UK and EU patients overcome access issues perfectly legally.

Working in accordance with the UK government’s Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) TheSocialMedwork is unique in that it can legally help individual patients buy the latest innovative medicines without needing to travel to another country for treatment. No other organisation in medical industry does this today.

TheSocialMedwork has a new type of licence – the medicine intermediary licence which enables them to source medicines within the EU for personal use. This was created in Netherlands by law in 2012, from an EU directive and Dutch company TheSocialMedwork made medical history by becoming the first ever holders of this licence to help patients directly.

Typically, wholesalers, who currently act as the main suppliers of clinics, hospitals and other medical care providers, and pharmaceutical companies are not allowed to sell medicines to individuals and this is where TheSocialMedwork fills an essential gap in the market.

According to the Medicines & Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) there is no requirement for a member of the public to notify them of the importation of medicines for serious or life-debilitating conditions on individual patient basis and does not restrict such importation.

Consequently, no licence, certificate or further authorisation is issued to or needed by recipients. The person receiving the medication needs to have only a prescription from a resident specialist and a doctor’s letter stating the name of the patient and the intended use and for how long the medicine supply will last.

The MHRA considers ‘individual patient use’ to involve the use of three-months supply of a medicine by an individual or family member.

TheSocialMedwork is completely unique in that it is a fully licensed, regulated medicines intermediary and social enterprise whose mission is to make newly developed medicines for serious and life-debilitating conditions available as soon as they are approved by the first authority. Giving people access months or even years, faster.

TheSocialMedwork is the brainchild of Sjaak Vink (a Dutch entrepreneur, innovator and social activist), joined by Jamie Heywood (Founder and Chairman of the largest online patient community in the world – Patients Like Me) and Bernard Muller (co-founder of Project MinE and ALS patient himself). Fuelled by a passion and dedication to help people access the very best healthcare, no matter who or where they are, they founded TheSocialMedwork, in September 2014.

TheSocialMedwork founder Sjaak Vink says: “I’ve experienced first-hand the problems caused by delays in access to new medicines. With a Hard Brexit there is a chance that certain medicines may be unavailable, causing problems for patients undergoing treatments. This is when we can help, the founders have all experienced the impact of this and our pledge is to make new medicines accessible to all people around the world at the same time. We believe that health is the most critical human right, and this is something we’ll continue to champion.”

TheSocialMedwork is committed to ensuring the lowest public prices for its medicines.

No medicines are dispensed without a valid prescription.

Why would patients lose access to medicines?

Pharmaceutical companies, like AstraZeneca, have already publicly disclosed their concerns about the lack of clear processes between EU and UK regarding the manufacture, cross-border distribution and differing production controls of medicines. For patients undergoing treatment with imported, new, medicines for serious conditions these problems cause a real threat to health and successful treatment outcomes.


For further press information, please contact:
Jane Eggleton/Charlotte Wright
Rooster PR
T: +44 (0)20 3440 8924
E: [email protected]

About TheSocialMedwork
TheSocialMedwork is an online platform where patients and doctors can source a newly approved medicine that is currently unavailable to them and have it delivered to a pharmacy or hospital in their home country. Founded in 2014, TheSocialMedwork has supplied nearly 4,000 medicines to patients in 70 countries and currently lists 60 medications on its website, adding more regularly. TheSocialMedwork strives to make new medicines available two weeks after they are approved by a reputable medical authority.  Our focus is to solve the delay between first approval and global availability which can be as long as five years. Patients with severe conditions and progressive diseases cannot wait that long. TheSocialMedwork helps people access new medicines that have the potential to make a positive impact on their health, life expectancy and quality of life. The team delivers newly approved medicines around the world every day.

As a social enterprise start-up the organisation is committed to its mission of making the best healthcare options accessible to everyone. The platform was founded when Sjaak Vink and Jamie Heywood — Founder and Chairman of the largest online patient community in the world Patients Like Me — both lost friends and family members to diseases due to a nonsensical reason: the inaccessibility of new medicines; a problem that could be solved. They were joined by Bernard Muller, co-founder of the world’s largest genetic data collection program Project MinE who had just been diagnosed with ALS himself, and Attorney-at-Law Katrin Schepp whose father passed away of cancer. The organisation’s first angel investor was acclaimed Silicon Valley healthcare investor-activist Esther Dyson.