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Scottish government readies ports to mitigate Brexit supply disruptions

‘Likely’ disruption to the supply of medicines and radiopharmaceuticals

Brexit

In an overview of its preparations for a no-deal Brexit, the Scottish government detailed the potential effects of leaving the European Union without a deal and the steps it is taking to mitigate them.

The government lists ‘likely’ disruption to the supply of medicines and radiopharmaceuticals among the issues it thinks will require a civil contingencies response on the first day of a no-deal Brexit. The need to create a new UK drug licensing process and regulatory framework for the production and distribution is also classed as a day one problem.

While Scotland will be affected if those predictions come to pass, its government has a limited set of powers with which to mitigate the problems. As such, the no-deal document points to what the UK government should be doing, as well as what the Scottish government is doing.

Industry-specific responses include the creation of a Scottish Medicines Shortage Response Group that will assess drug supplies and recommend actions and the stockpiling of medical devices and clinical consumables by the Scottish health service.

The Scottish government has also drawn up plans to manage the supply disruptions that may affect the flow of medicines and other products.

If needed, the Scottish government will use an old port in in Stranraer to house lorries held up by disruption to the flow of goods between Scotland and Northern Ireland. There are also plans to use Scottish terminals as an alternative to the short straits crossings between France and England, which are predicted to be the worst hit by any disruption related to Brexit.

The Scottish government thinks the flow of shipments across the short straits could fall to 40% of its normal level on the first day of a no-deal Brexit. Under the worst case scenario, the flow could still be down by 50% three months later.

Even if the flow of medicines into the UK is unimpeded, the Scottish government sees longer term negative outcomes, including slower access to new drugs, higher prices and stoppages of clinical trials.

The UK government has publicly expressed more optimism about the effects of a no-deal Brexit. This week, Edward Argar, Minister of State at the Department of Health and Social Care, told Parliament the UK government’s plans “should ensure the uninterrupted supply of medicines and medical products”.

Argar’s confidence is underpinned by the ‘multi-layered approach’ adopted by the UK government, which has seen it source alternative supply routes and ask companies to stockpile medicines.

Trade group BIA has advised companies to register their interest immediately if they want to use government-procured supply routes to get medicines in and out of the UK.

Article by
Nick Taylor

9th October 2019

From: Healthcare

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