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No-deal Brexit may force public to stockpile drugs

Friday 26th October 2018
Pharmaceutical industry leaders have warned that emergency stockpiling and dispensing steps may be needed if there is a no-deal Brexit.
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A no-deal Brexit may force the public to stockpile medicines, pharmaceutical industry leaders have told MPs.

Speaking to the House of Commons' Health and Social Care Committee, Martin Sawer of the Healthcare Distributors Association said the industry may not have the capacity to stockpile sufficient drugs, meaning members of the public might need to buy in bulk themselves.

He remarked: "We need politicians to understand there could be consequences. We are not suggesting anybody needs to stockpile outside of the supply chain yet. But come January that might be a different picture.

"We are, we believe, going to be in a difficult situation if there is not a deal by Christmas."

He suggested that the government might have to use emergency powers, which could include permitting pharmacists to swap one drug for another without requiring the consent of GPs, based on what is available. 

Chief executive of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry Mike Thompson issued a similar warning, telling MPs that stockpiling by pharmaceutical firms "won't be enough," and that the government needs to make some firmer contingency plans.  

However, a Department of Health and Social Care spokesman has said patients should not seek to stockpile drugs, asserting that the government is "confident" of still getting a deal. In the meantime, he stated, plans are being made to "ensure adequate stockpiles" are there in the event of a no-deal outcome. 

Prime minister Theresa May has said the UK is 95 per cent of the way to a deal with the EU, but the question of the Irish border remains a sticking point. 

Although imported drugs will come not from Ireland but across the Channel, the issue of freedom of goods and services to move between the EU and Britain is central to the Irish border question.

Pharmaceutical firms Novartis and Sanofi both revealed in the summer that they were making contingency plans in case of a no-deal Brexit.

Written by James Puckle

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