Drugs companies asked to maintain a six-week stockpile for six months in the event of ‘no-deal’ Brexit

The UK government has confirmed that it is asking pharmaceutical companies to maintain drug stockpiles for six months, not six weeks as previously announced, should the UK leave the EU without a deal in place.

Cold chain warehouse

Pharmaceutical companies have been asked to maintain a rolling six-week stockpile of medicines for six months in the event of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit, the government has confirmed.

The government wrote to the health and care sector, including NHS bodies and pharmaceutical companies, on 7 December 2018 revising the cross-government contingency planning assumption from six-weeks to six months to reflect “significantly reduced access across the short straits” at Dover and Folkestone.

But the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) told The Pharmaceutical Journal on 12 December 2018 that the six-week stockpile was only intended to sustain supplies through the initial stages after 29 March 2019, when the UK is due to leave the EU.

After Brexit, the DHSC said medicines would be prioritised and transported through alternative routes, such as air freight.

However, the government later corrected its comments saying that pharmaceutical companies have been asked to maintain a rolling six-week supply during the six months of disruption which could be experienced at the UK/EU border following a no-deal Brexit.

Ash Soni, president of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, told The Pharmaceutical Journal that the Society discussed this plan with the government, adding that it “should provide greater reassurance for patients and hopefully for pharmacy”.

He said: “The benefit [that the government has] is that if you say an extra six weeks for six months, [and] you get to three months and you’re suddenly finding it’s not getting any better or it doesn’t seem to be getting resolved, you can just turn to the company and say ‘no we want to extend this for another six months’, or for however long.”

Last updated
The Pharmaceutical Journal, December 2018;Online:DOI:10.1211/PJ.2018.20205908