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Brexit: Government tells suppliers to stockpile medicine as a "buffer"

Suppliers should prepare for the end of the transition period by stockpiling six weeks’ worth of medicines as a “buffer” against “potential disruption”, the government has said.

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”.

What do you make of the letter?

C A, Community pharmacist

Wait... does this mean we're allowed to stockpile now?

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

Don't be daft! We'll still be done for stockpiling. It's only the wholesalers that are allowed to do that, as in the wholesalers owned by Boots and Lloyds - how co-incidental.....

Raymond Anderson, Community pharmacist

Very concerned about accessability and availability of medicines coming into N. Ireland post 31st December. Our wholesalers will have extra paperwork, delays  and customs declarations to contend with. We will still be held by the single market rules. Could this lead to AAH, Alliance and Phoenix withdrawing from the N. Ireland market? All the current talk is about food but we operate close to a just in time supply to ensure all our patients get their medicines. Any delays at ports and increased costs will affect our service levels.

Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

Never thought I'd think this, but I've missed talking about Brexit! This is the clearest sign yet that we are actually getting on top of the sodding virus because we are talking about other things.

Frankly, the medicine shortage situation has been so bad recently that I can't see how a few more border checks can make it any worse. If the stuff isn't there in the first place, there's nothing to check!

Oh, and Freelance, me old mucker - we are a right pair of opinionated gits aren't we?

Freelance Chemist, Pre-reg Pharmacist

We need to start bringing production back to this country.  

We need to start paying faire prices for our meds.


Soon-To-Be Ex-Pharmacist, Superintendent Pharmacist

If only....

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