The Government has agreed the terms of our exit from the European Union, as set out in the Withdrawal Agreement. The Withdrawal Agreement offers a time-limited implementation period that provides a bridge to the future relationship, allowing business, including the life sciences industry, to continue trading as now until the end of 2020. The supply of medicines and medical supplies would remain unchanged during the implementation period.
As a responsible Government, however, we continue to prepare proportionately for all scenarios, including the unlikely outcome that we leave the EU without any deal in March 2019.
On 23 August 2018, the Department wrote to pharmaceutical companies that supply the United Kingdom with pharmacy or prescription-only medicines, including non-national programme vaccines, from, or via, the EU/European Economic Area, asking them to ensure they have a minimum of six weeks’ additional supply in the UK, over and above their business as usual operational buffer stocks, by 29 March 2019 in the event of a no deal EU exit.
Since then we have received very good engagement from industry who share our aims of ensuring continuity of medicines supply for patients is maintained and able to cope with any potential delays at the border that may arise in the short term in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
The Department does not expect to see significant changes to existing medicine supply chains or capacity in the intervening period, however we will be monitoring this closely. There is already a team within the Department that deal with medicine supply shortages arising both in the community and in hospitals. We have well established operational levers and channels we use between ourselves and the Medicines and Health products Regulatory Agency or the National Health Service to mitigate supply issues.