The government is to prioritise freight capacity for importing medicines and medical devices over “critical food chain dependencies” in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
According to a list published by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), “category 1” goods, which are described as “critical to preservation of human or animal welfare and/or national security”, will be imported through the short straits between Dover, Folkestone, Calais, Dunkirk, and Coquelles using government-secured freight capacity.
The list of goods which are “within consideration of the government-secured freight capacity” includes prescription-only, pharmacy and general sales list medicines, as well as vaccines and biological materials, such as blood, organs, tissues and cells.
The document also includes a list of category 1 goods that “are not considered to require access to government-secured freight capacity at this stage”, including “critical food chain dependencies”.
The document describes these products as chemicals and “key additives” used in the food supply chain.
The DHSC previously said on 25 February 2019 in a written statement to parliament that 7,000 prescription-only and pharmacy medicines have been subject to government planning for a no-deal Brexit, with companies supplying the drugs asked to maintain a six-week buffer stock in the UK.
But in a letter to medicines suppliers dated 18 February 2019, the DHSC said it recognises “that not all suppliers of medical devices and clinical consumables have the capability to hold stock of their full product range in the UK” and set up a dedicated shipping channel to ferry in urgent stocks.