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Health Secretary Matt Hancock said in a Brexit update to health and care providers that additional actions may be needed to supplement the medicine stockpiling by manufacturers due to the changed border assumptions.

The revised assumptions warns of potential border delays for up to six months.

Hancock said he will be writing to manufacturing companies and reiterated that health and care providers need not to stockpile additional medicines beyond their business as usual stock levels.

In August, Hancock has asked drug manufacturers to ensure they have a minimum of six weeks additional supply by 29 March 2019, in preparation of a possible no-deal scenario.

Reacting to Hancock’s letter, drug makers and other stakeholders raised alarm on the new guidance.

“Today’s update on potential border delays for six months in a ‘No deal’ scenario is stark. Stockpiling more medicines is not the solution to this problem,” said Mike Thompson, chief executive of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry.

“With just 16 weeks until the UK leaves the EU, we need the Government to take immediate action to open up alternative supply routes between the UK and Europe and tell companies so that they can make plans,” he added.

British Generic Manufacturers Association said the guidance gives little details and asked for better information sharing.

“While an update from the Secretary of State is helpful, it contains less detailed information than leaks from other Government Departments. It is vitally important that the Government shares with us and others all their current information so that we can plan accordingly,” said Warwick Smith, director general of BGMA.

Niall Dickson, co-chair of the Brexit Health Alliance, expressed ‘deep concern’ on the increased border checks and asked the Department of Health and Social Care to work closely with the Department for Transport to ensure a safe and steady flow of medicines.

“Given the mutual reliance on the supply of medical products between the UK and the EU, we must now see what contingencies the EU is putting in place to protect the health of citizens across the UK and Europe,” Dickson added.

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