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: DHSC

Government has asked suppliers to stockpile medicines in anticipation of a no-deal Brexit at the end of the year.

In a letter to medicine suppliers, Steve Oldfield, chief commemrcial officer at the Department of Health and Social Care wrote: “We recognise that global supply chains are under significant pressure, exacerbated by recent events with Covid-19.

“However, 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.”

The letter, published on Monday (Aug 3), added that a “flexible approach to preparedness may be required that considers a mixture of stockpiling and rerouting plans as necessary” and that the DHSC stood “ready to support companies with their plans if required”.

“Holding additional stock in the UK provides a further buffer against some disruption and we believe, where it’s possible, it’s a valuable part of a robust contingency plan,” the letter continued.

“To build upon past work and ensure a coordinated approach, we will be asking suppliers to confirm their contingency plans for the end of the TP (transition period) and in particular the balance between stock-holding in the UK, rerouting away from the short straits and readiness for new customs and border arrangements.”

RPS response

“I’m 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, RPS President Sandra Gidley said in response to the letter.

“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.

“As we head into winter, combined with the potential of a second wave of Covid-19, the Government must consider all the options as part of prudent contingency planning to support patient care.

“This should include changes in medicines legislation to empower pharmacists in the community to use their professional judgment to make simple substitutions when a medicine is out of stock.”

Pharmaceutical industry memo to DHSC

In June an internal pharmaceutical industry memo said that original stockpiles of medicines meant for a no-deal Brexit was already used up due to the Covid-10 pandemic amid stark warning that there would be “less or zero product available in the market to allow for stockpiling a broad range of products” before December.

Fearing severe disruption to global supply chains, the industry had told government that any “preparations for the end of the transition period must complement plans to secure the supply of coronavirus therapeutic and supportive products.”

“While today’s [Aug 3] letter means that preparations can proceed, detailed guidance is still urgently required from Government, said David Watson, ABPI’s interim executive director for Commercial Policy, in response.

“Pharmaceutical companies have worked around the clock to make sure medicine supply chains have held up during this pandemic. With this pressure likely to continue over the coming months, it is imperative that the Government works closely with them to provide the support they need to plan for the end of the transition period.”

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