The UK chancellor has committed to spending an extra £434m on ensuring the continued supply of medicines in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
The money forms part of a larger announcement of funding worth £2.1bn for no-deal Brexit preparations across several government departments.
In the Treasury statement published on 1 August 2019, Sajid Javid — who was appointed as UK chancellor on 24 July 2019 by the new prime minister Boris Johnson — said the £434m will be “made available to help ensure continuity of vital medicines and medical products, including through freight capacity, warehousing and stockpiling”.
The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) was previously allotted £50m for no-deal Brexit preparations in 2019/2020, having set aside £3m to transport short-life medicines and medical devices and spent an undisclosed amount of money in the “low tens of millions” of pounds on refrigerated storage.
However, the Treasury has confirmed to The Pharmaceutical Journal that the latest tranche of funding will be entirely new money.
Plans to maintain the drugs supply in the event of a no-deal Brexit were put on hold after two Brexit extensions were agreed between the UK government and the EU, with the UK now expected to leave the EU on 31 October 2019.
Following the second extension in April 2019, the DHSC wrote to pharmaceutical firms asking them to keep their previously-agreed six-week rolling stockpile of drugs “in place but on hold” until further notice.
Then in June 2019, Steve Oldfield, chief commercial officer at the DHSC, wrote to drugs firms and the wider healthcare sector setting out further no-deal Brexit planning and warning that there would be “significant disruption” for six months in the event of the UK leaving the UK with no agreement in place.