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Government to set up ‘express freight service’ for medicinal products in event of no-deal Brexit

Additional preparation to ensure continuity of supplies

no deal

The Department of Health and Social Care has announced it will set up an ‘express freight service’ to deliver medicines and medical products into the country in the case of a no-deal Brexit.

The £25m contract will become part of the government’s plans to ‘support the continuity of supply when the UK leaves the EU on 31 October’. The contract will run for 12 months with the possibility of a further extension.

According to this plan, the service will be able to deliver small parcels of medicines or medical products on a 24-hour basis, with larger containments available on a two-to-four-day basis. The government has also said that while most of the goods will be standard medicine products, the service can also deliver temperature-controlled products if necessary.

“I want to ensure that when we leave the EU at the end of October, all appropriate steps have been taken to ensure frontline services are fully prepared,” said Chris Skidmore, Health Minister.

“This express freight service sends a clear message to the public that our plans should ensure supply of medical goods remains uninterrupted as we leave the EU,” he added.

However, the government has not yet secured a supplier, with potential bidders having until 21 August to submit proposals to win the contract. The successful provider will be announced in September, only a month before the Brexit deadline.

The freight service is intended to ensure contingency and continuity of vital medicines and medicinal products, which the government has said is a ‘part of necessary preparation’. This will be supported by the additional £2bn the government made available in preparation for Brexit at the beginning of August.

Those within the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries have not welcomed the news, with the British Medical Association (BMA) calling the plan “beyond alarming”.

“This latest announcement from the government is a further indication of the chaos that will lay in store for the NHS and patients in the event of a no-deal Brexit and highlights just how costly this will be,” added David Wrigley, BMA deputy chair.

This announcement further increases the likelihood that no-deal is the government's primary plan for Britain’s exit from the EU in October. Industry leaders have repeatedly maintained that a no-deal could have a dramatic impact on the supply of medicines and could also affect ongoing drug research and collaboration with the EU.

The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) has welcomed the additional measures, but still maintains that a no-deal Brexit is a worst-case scenario.

We welcome these important additional measures to help get medicines to patients in the event of a no-deal Brexit. Companies look forward to the detail of how this extra freight capacity will work in practice.

However, we reiterate that securing a deal remains the best way to protect patients,” said Mike Thompson, chief executive officer of the ABPI.

Article by
Lucy Parsons

15th August 2019

From: Healthcare

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