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The government has announced the launch of a new international freight service to transport medicines and medical products to the country rapidly when a supplier’s own logistical arrangements are disrupted.

The International Express Freight Service (IEFS) will facilitate fast-tracking of medicines and medical goods which are at risk of shortage to ensure patients can continue to access the treatments they need.

The service aims to collect and deliver small parcels within 24 to 48 hours and pallets or shipments within two to four working days, with specialized products with a controlled or regulated handling requirement fast-tracked within 24 hours.

“Global supply chains are unpredictable and our new International Express Freight Service will rapidly transport medical products in shortage to the UK within days,” Health Minister Edward Argar said.

“We are committed to building back stronger from the pandemic, and more resilient supply chains are a crucial part of that.”

The new service is part of the Department of Health and Social Care’s National Supply Disruption Response (NSDR) Centre to help ensure the continuity of medicines and medical supplies when suppliers face logistical disruptions.

DHSC said Kuehne+Nagel International has been selected to operate the IEFS, following an open procurement process.

Suppliers are required to be registered before they can access the service and will be responsible for payment of carriage and any additional services agreed in conjunction with product movements under each of the IEFS solutions (parcel, pallets and specials) when used.

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