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Brexit: ‘Challenging’ for suppliers to increase stock by end of year

The UK government is “working closely” to ensure access to medicines
The UK government is “working closely” to ensure access to medicines

It will be “challenging” for manufacturers and suppliers to increase their stock of medicines by the end of the Brexit transition period, the Scottish government has said.

This is attributed both to the “impact of COVID-19 on supplies” and to the fact that the UK government has “only just” written to pharmaceutical companies about the need to stockpile medicines, Scottish minister for parliamentary business and veterans Graeme Dey said in parliament last week (August 20).

A “more distant relationship” with the European Medicines Agency – which evaluates and supervises medicinal products in Europe – could result in a “loss of access to the single European licence for a new medicine, with all the difficulties that that would create”, Mr Dey added.

However, the Scottish government is “working closely” with the English government to ensure continued access to medicines “in the event of border disruption”, Mr Day said.

Same advice to pharmacies

Community Pharmacy Scotland (CPS) director of operations Matt Barclay told C+D yesterday (August 26) that most of the discussions with wholesalers and manufacturers “take place at a UK level”.

The Scottish government contributes to these discussions and CPS and “other UK community pharmacy stakeholders” share their feedback through “appropriate forums”, he added

“Much of the same” advice to community pharmacies – including the request not to stockpile at a local level – “that was present in the run up to the last potential deadline will be in place again”, Mr Barclay said.

“I have no doubt that this will be a focus of discussion between us and the Scottish government in the coming months as the end of the transition period looms. We will ensure our members are informed to support continuity of supply of medicines to the public,” he added.

A Scottish government spokesperson also told C+D yesterday that the actions planned by the UK government in preparation for the end of the transition period are similar to plans previously made in preparation for a possible “no deal” scenario.

In addition to asking suppliers to increase their stock holding of medicines, these measures include “government secured” freight capacity and a Department of Health and Social Care commercial supply team tasked with managing shortages.

Earlier this month (August 3), the UK government asked manufacturers and wholesalers to stockpile six weeks’ worth of medicines in preparation for “potential disruption” at the end of the transition period on December 31.

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