Brexit is “bound to [produce] supply chain speculation”. Consequently, there will be products where the market is ‘short’ and prices will go up, John Preston, director of wholesale quality at Phoenix warned delegates at the recent PSUK North conference and exhibition.
Reiterating DDA advice, he said that practices should resist the temptation to stockpile or to try to ‘play’ the market, as this puts pressure on available stock levels and risks patients going without medicines. “Mechanisms will be in place to respond quickly to supply chain shortages,” he said.
Instead, to prepare for Brexit practices should ensure they have a ready supply of consumables (till rolls, prescription bags, etc) and that all EU staff are registered for settled status. They can also reassure patients, he said, detailing the DHSC’s contingency arrangements: “The medicines industry is as prepared as any; a lot of work has been done.”
In his presentation, Mr Preston said should the UK leave the EU with ‘a deal’, current arrangements would continue without interruption until December 2020. Thereafter, ongoing relationships would need to be renegotiated.
If the UK leaves without a deal, a ‘no deal’ scenario, the UK will need to take unilateral interim steps to ensure medicines remain available. This includes converting European to UK medicines’ licences, including for PIs. Separate arrangements will also be needed to secure the ongoing availability of medical devices, and to develop a UK database to enable FMD-style medicines verification.
The value of trade in medicines is worth around £35 billion, with PIs accounting for 7-8 per cent of this, said Mr Preston. “You can’t just have that switching off,” he said.