The Department of Health and Social Care has updated its Brexit planning advice to medicines suppliers and medical devices and clinical consumables suppliers.
The main risk to the unrestrained flow of medicines and medical products into the UK is expected to be a reduced traffic flow across the Channel into Dover and Folkstone. The first three months after a no-deal EU exit would be the most severe, but problems are expected to remain for around six months.
Suppliers are being advised to have contingency plans for other freight routes into the UK, but also to maintain stock levels with an extra six weeks’ supply on top of normal stock levels. “Companies will be asked to provide information at product level, focused on the minimum key data set necessary for assurance of the programme,” said the DHSC.
While much of the focus is on standard Prescription Only Medicines (POM) and Pharmacy (P) medicines, the Department is considering the impact for other product categories, including critical general sales list medicines, unlicensed medicines, ‘specials’, and parallel imports and exports.
“While a combination of stockpiling and re-routing, together with trader readiness, would also be advisable for these products too, we will be engaging separately with companies on their contingency plans over the coming weeks,” it said.
A parliamentary written statement on the matter also addresses the matter of products required urgently, saying that an express freight contingency arrangement will be set up. “This will be an urgent contingency measure for products requiring urgent delivery, within a 24-48 hour timeframe.”
A central stockpile of fast-moving medical devices and clinical consumables has been created in the UK by the DHSC working with procurement and logistics services and will be maintained in readiness for October 31st.
However, “this stockpile does not cover all product lines and, therefore, there will be a requirement for suppliers to implement their own preparedness arrangements.” The DHSC will be asking companies to notify it of their plans.
Around three-quarters of medicines and over half the clinical consumables the UK uses come from (or via) the EU.