THE UK is preparing to airlift in medicines with a short shelf life if London cannot strike a Brexit deal with the EU, the government said last Thursday (23).

London has plans to ensure a continued supply of medicines from the moment Britain leaves the European Union at the end of March, health secretary Matt Hancock said in an open letter.

It comes after NHS Providers, the group representing hospitals and ambulance services in England, warned that a lack of contingency planning for a no-deal Brexit would be a risk to services. Without national planning and coordination, “there could be both stockpiles and shortages of medicines and medical devices”, said NHS Providers chief executive Chris Hopson, in a letter seen by the media.

Hancock’s letter spelled out what England’s health system needed to consider in preparation for a no-deal Brexit.

“We will ensure the UK has an additional six weeks supply of medicines in case imports
from the EU through certain routes are affected,” Hancock said. “Pharmaceutical companies
should ensure therefore they have an additional six week supply of medicines in the UK on top of their own normal stock levels.

The letter said hospitals, doctors and pharmacies and patients would not need to stockpile additional medicines, or doctors to write longer prescriptions. Britain already keeps a three month stockpile of medicines.

The country last week also outlined wider plans for managing the fallout in the “unlikely”
scenario of Brexit talks collapsing, warning that businesses faced more customs red tape
and consumers risked higher card payment charges.

Brexit minister Dominic Raab also said Britain would adopt a series of EU rules in case of a
no-deal to allow EU imports in and urged Brussels to do the same for British goods.

Raab said Britain would continue to recognise batch testing and EU certifications for medicine to avoid disruption.