ABPI warns that no-deal Brexit could disrupt medicines and vaccine delivery

pharmafile | November 25, 2020 | News story | Research and Development  

The Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) has warned that the supplies of crucial medicines and vaccines could be threatened in the event of a no-deal Brexit. 

This is due to the additional costs and regulations that would follow breaking with the EU, according to Dr Richard Torbett, Chief Executive of the ABPI: “We are as prepared as we can possibly be, but we don’t need this extra red tape, extra complexity, extra cost and extra delay getting in the way of our supply chain at a time where we’re trying to deal with COVID.

“Clearly this is very frustrating and all of the time and effort and resource that has been put into the multiple levels of scenario planning around Brexit is time and effort and resource that could have been put to other better uses.”

The UK imports around 37 million packets of medicine from the EU every month while exporting 45 million packets. The British pharmaceutical industry in general has been stockpiling medicines for the last four years in case of potential disruption caused by Brexit. However, back in June it was reported that after the pandemic ends there will be near zero amount of product available in the market to allow for stockpiling a broad range of drugs compared to 2019, when there was the availability for a Brexit stockpile.

The pandemic has led to a massive increase in demand for various medicines that had been stockpiled as well as medical equipment like inhalers. This has been further hurt by lockdown measures shutting down factories around the world that are vital to the drug supply line.

A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson responded to the ABPI comments and  said: “The government has proposed to the EU an agreement on medicines and medical devices which would provide significant benefits to patients, industry and regulators in the EU and UK, including ensuring we have quick access to new treatments. Alongside these negotiations, we are working closely with partners across the health system to put in place robust measures for the end of the transition period, taking into account extra winter and COVID pressures.”

Conor Kavanagh

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