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Call for temporary medicines export ban if no-deal Brexit strikes

NHS could struggle to source medicines

ABPI

The UK pharma industry has today called for a temporary medicines export ban to prevent the NHS from being hit by a countrywide drugs shortage in the event of no-deal Brexit.

It warns that the NHS is at risk of wholesalers taking their business elsewhere should the pound drop if the UK crashes out of Europe without a deal.

Banning exports of vital medicines will discourage wholesalers from parallel trading, whereby products that are intended for one market are exported to another EU member state.

This could lead to wholesalers taking advantage of the different pricing systems in more stable markets within the EU, potentially offering wholesalers bigger profits if the pound depletes.

Pharmaceutical companies have already been stockpiling medicines in preparation for a no-deal Brexit, with most of them reserving medicines for at least six weeks.

AstraZeneca, MSD and Sanofi are some other drugmakers have implemented these contingency plans, although it doesn’t come cheap – the King’s Fund recently estimated that stockpiling efforts could cost the UK as much as £2bn.

Earlier this month, chief executive of the ABPI Mike Thompson said: “Pharmaceutical companies have done everything in their power to prepare for a ‘no deal’ Brexit. This includes increasing stocks of medicines, changing and adding new supply routes and duplicating manufacturing processes here and in Europe.

"Despite these efforts, we have always said that in a ‘no deal’ scenario we could face the very real possibility of disruption to the supply of some medicines.

The UK's Department of Health and Social Care has also announced a medicines contingency programme, which includes a prioritisation model, and securing additional transport for critical goods such as medicines imports.

It said: “We are aware of concerns raised about this issue and continue to work closely with the NHS, industry and the supply chain to ensure patients continue to access medicines in the same way they do now - whatever the EU exit outcome.”

The ABPI’s proposal comes on what would have been Brexit day, but official withdrawal has now been delayed to either 12 April or 22 May, depending on political events in Westminster.

This afternoon sees a further vote by the House of Commons, where Theresa May's deal with the European Union looks set to be defeated for a third, and almost certainly final time.

Article by
Gemma Jones

29th March 2019

From: Regulatory

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