The British government called for drugmakers to build an additional six weeks of medicines stockpiles to cope with potential supply disruption in the event of a no-deal Brexit – a target the industry said would be challenging.
In a letter to pharmaceutical companies, the government asked manufacturers “to ensure they have a minimum of six weeks additional supply in the UK, over and above their business as usual operational buffer stocks, by 29th March 2019”.
The highly regulated drugs sector is one of the most vulnerable to Britain’s decision to leave the European Union because of uncertainty as to how medicines oversight will function in the event of an abrupt exit next March. That has sparked fears of drug shortages, and some companies – including AstraZeneca, Sanofi and Novartis – have already said they plan to increase stockpiles in Britain in case of a no-deal Brexit.
Currently, medicines regulation is governed at a pan-European level but Britain is set to leave that EU regulatory system after Brexit, prompting many drugmakers to prepare duplicate product testing and licensing arrangements. In a bid to limit future difficulties, the UK government also said it would take a pragmatic approach to future drug monitoring by recognizing and using products that have been licensed and tested in the EU.
The UK government moves on medicines are part of a wider set of plans setting out likely problems if London fails to negotiate an exit deal with Brussels.