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The government has issued the pharmaceutical industry with two letters providing guidance on how to deal with the situation if the UK leaves the European Union without a deal.
Secretary of state for health and social care Matt Hancock wrote to pharmaceutical companies to ask suppliers to add to their existing buffer stocks with an extra six weeks worth of supplies. In addition, he said they should make plans to ensure that products that cannot be kept in stock due to a short shelf life can be brought in by air freight, to bypass any problems at Channel ports.
Mr Hancock said there should be a particular focus on possible disruption to supplies from France, Germany, the Netherlands and Belgium.
He also wrote a letter to suppliers of medical devices and clinical consumables, stating that separate contingency plans are being developed for the industry, about which the government will provide more information next month. National stock holding will be increased.
The contingency planning for the pharmaceutical sector echoes advice provided across a range of health and other sectors in order to ensure plans are in place should a no-deal scenario arise.
Mr Hancock was at pains to state that "significant progress" has been made in negotiations with the EU, and he said a no-deal Brexit was "unlikely". However, he said, it was important for the government to prepare "proportionately" for each possible outcome.
He concluded: "Given the significant amount of work that has now been done, I am confident this gives a clear basis for the health and care sector and the life sciences industry to plan so that patients can continue to receive high-quality care unhindered."
Several pharmaceutical companies have already given consideration to how they might deal with a no-deal Brexit.
Earlier this month, French drug firm Sanofi said it was adding an extra four weeks worth of supplies to give it 14 weeks of stock, while Swiss firm Novartis said it was making its own contingency plans.
Written by James Puckle
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