In a letter sent on Monday (August 3) the government asked that manufacturers and wholesalers of medicines “put in place flexible mitigation and readiness plans in preparation for new border and customs procedures”.
The letter from Steve Oldfield, chief commercial officer at the Department of Health and Social Care (DH), also asked suppliers to hold additional stock in the UK as a “buffer” against disruptions.
“We encourage companies to make stockpiling a key part of contingency plans, and ask industry, where possible, to stockpile to a target level of six weeks’ total stock on UK soil,” Mr Oldfield said.
The 11-month transition period that began when Britain left the European Union in January this year comes to an end on December 31. This will mean “new border and customs procedures apply, regardless of whether the UK and EU agree the ambitious free trade agreement that the government is seeking to negotiate,” Mr Oldfield added.
However, community pharmacies are not expected to stockpile medicines, the DH confirmed to C+D yesterday (August 4).
There should now be a “shared focus” on “mitigating any potential disruption to supply into the UK across all categories of medical supplies”, Mr Oldfield said.
RPS: “Concerned to see prospect of a no-deal Brexit”
Sandra Gidley, president of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society (RPS), said she is “concerned to see the prospect of a no-deal Brexit return once again, amid one of the most challenging times in the history of the NHS”.
“It’s vital the UK and EU agree a deal on medicines regulation as soon as possible, to support our world-leading life sciences sector and ensure patients can get the medicines they need,” she added.
Ms Gidley said that the risk of a second wave of COVID-19 as the country heads into winter means the government must “consider all the options as part of prudent contingency planning to support patient care”.