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Pharma bodies: No-deal Brexit could cause ‘supply shocks at any time’

Leaving the EU without a trade deal could spell trouble for patients and the pharmaceutical industry, leading to medicine “supply shocks”, healthcare associations have warned.

Last week (October 16), Prime Minister Boris Johnson said the UK must “get ready” for a no-deal Brexit at the end of the transition period on December 31.

In response to this , The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) and Healthcare Distribution Association (HDA) have warned of dire potential consequences if a trade deal is not secured, including medicines shortages and supply disruptions.

Martin Sawer, executive director of the HDA, told C+D earlier this week (October 19) that “if an agreement is not reached, delays could create supply shocks at any point in time”. Such a scenario is “even more likely now that worldwide healthcare systems are dealing with the unprecedented supply chain demands of the COVID-19 pandemic”, he said.

Richard Torbett, chief executive of the ABPI, said that leaving without a deal is “not in the interest of patients, the pharmaceutical industry, or the economies of the UK and the EU”.

“As long as a window of opportunity remains, negotiators must keep talking and agree a comprehensive deal,” he added in a statement last week (October 16). Mr Torbett stressed the importance of securing medicines supply.

Last week (October 18) ABPI signed a joint statement with over 70 other business groups across a range of sectors, calling for a “pragmatic approach” to reaching an EU-UK trading agreement to safeguard jobs and combat uncertainty for businesses.

HDA: Some medicines could “cease to be available for patients”

Mr Sawer said the HDA the organisation “is very concerned about the uncertainty being created” by the stalled negotiations between the EU and the UK.

If “increased costs and delays in the medicines supply chain” are the “side-effects of a no-deal”, then the UK's patients will suffer, he said.

In the “worst of possible scenarios, if the cost of UK medicines rise as a consequence of extra supply chain complexities and regulations”, certain medicines “just might cease to be available for patients, because they could become uneconomic to supply” he added.

“Several small EU countries do not receive as full a range of medicines as the larger EU countries for this very reason,” Mr Sawer said.

Are you concerned about the supply of medicines after the transition period?

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