The Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) has asked suppliers of medicines and medical products in the UK to stockpile six weeks' worth of stock on UK soil to prepare for the end of the Brexit transition period on 31 December 2020.

As trade deal talks between the UK and EU have stalled, the prospects of there being no deal in time for the end of the transition period look increasingly likely.

In an open letter to all suppliers, Steve Oldfield, the Chief Commercial Officer of the DHSC, has asked suppliers to start making sensible provisions now. He commented that, in addition to the end of the Brexit transition period, the supply chain remained under severe strain due to the ongoing pandemic, the resumption of usual NHS activity and increased seasonal pressures. He expects the worst of the supply chain issues to be in the first six months following the end of the Brexit transition period.

Whilst calling for suppliers to stockpile, the DHSC is saying that health and social care service providers should avoid local stockpiling over and above 'business as usual', as that would be unnecessary and could cause shortages in other areas, which could put patient care at risk. The letter also advocated that patients should not stockpile medicines.

In addition, the DHSC letter urged everyone to review their own logistics situation as a priority and make good use of warehouse space, although the Government does not see a need to intervene to help with this.

The DHSC's focus is on mitigating disruption to supply into the UK in all categories of medical supplies, including:

  • medicines
  • medical devices and clinical consumables
  • clinical trials supplies
  • products of human origin (blood and transplant items)
  • vaccines and countermeasures
  • non-clinical goods and services (NCGS) in support of health and social care providers

In the letter, Mr Oldfield praised the pharmaceuticals and life sciences industry for its crucial role and response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and working hard to maintain supplies in that time.

Preparing for the Future

At a recent BioIndustry Association (BIA) webinar, nearly four in five attendees now expected there to be no trade deal in place between the UK and the EU as at 1 January 2020. Businesses must continue preparations urgently to prepare for all situations including the increasingly likely one of no trade deal.

Through PING (Pharmaceutical Industry Network Group), VWV held a sell-out conference in association with EMIG last year on how Brexit has affected the pharma supply chain. We heard about regulatory, research, immigration and trade issues; as well as an interesting and uplifting perspective from a European-based industry speaker.

Press coverage of the event can be found here:

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