Leaked government documents have revealed that a no-deal Brexit will result in medicine shortages. The Operation Yellowhammer dossier indicates that fewer drug imports could be a reality for the UK.
Pharmaceutical supplies would “be vulnerable to severe extended delays,” due to three-quarters of UK medicine being imported via the main Channel crossings, says the document.
A senior Whitehall source told The Sunday Times:
This is the most realistic assessment of what the public face with no deal. These are likely, basic, reasonable scenarios – not the worst case.
However, the government has also taken steps to reduce the impacts of a no-deal Brexit. A new £25 million contract to set up an express freight service to deliver drug products into the country was offered by the UK Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC). The service is intended to cover all of the UK, to deliver medicines on a 24-hour basis.
Most of the drugs are expected to be standard medicines but the express freight service can also deliver temperature-controlled products.
Mike Thompson, chief executive of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), said:
We welcome these important additional measures to help get medicines to patients in the event of a no deal Brexit. Companies look forward to the detail of how this extra freight capacity will work in practice. However, we reiterate that securing a deal remains the best way to protect patients.
This move is part of an effort to ensure medicinal supply to the UK does not face a shortage of drugs. Despite this, the government has also recently warned social care providers not to stockpile any medicines in preparation for Brexit, as the DHSC has said this could cause scarcity in other areas of the health sector.