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NHS: Drugs

Question for Department of Health and Social Care

UIN HL10252, tabled on 11 September 2018

To ask Her Majesty's Government which pharmaceutical companies, if any, they have been working with to ensure that UK stockpiles of medicines are adequate to cope with a no-deal Brexit.

Answered on

20 September 2018

On 23 August 2018 the Department published an open letter online to all pharmaceutical companies asking them to ensure that United Kingdom stockpiles of medicines are appropriate to cope with potential delays at the border that may arise in the event of a no-deal Brexit. A copy of the letter is attached.

At the same time the Department also wrote to pharmaceutical companies that supply the UK with prescription-only-medicines and pharmacy medicines from, or via, the European Union/European Economic Area (EEA), 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. The Department also asked those suppliers to indicate how they propose to ensure continuity of supply of their products to the National Health Service as part of the Department’s contingency programme. We are unable to provide the names of these companies as this information is commercially sensitive.

General sales list (over-the-counter) medicines were not included in the Department’s request to suppliers to indicate their contingency plans to us, and therefore are not currently formally part of our contingency programme. We have, however, encouraged all medicines suppliers to the UK with a EU/EEA touchpoint to stockpile or make alternative arrangements and are confident that this is the best approach to ensure supply at pharmacies and retail outlets in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

The Department also wrote to hospitals, general practitioners and community pharmacies informing them that they do not need to take any steps to stockpile additional medicines, beyond their business as usual stock levels, as this is not necessary due to our contingency plans in partnership with pharmaceutical companies.

We are not currently aware of any healthcare providers or other health care organisations acquiring medicines in volumes that would qualify as stockpiling but we will work with NHS colleagues to closely monitor and follow up any incidences of over ordering of medicines.

The Department has worked collaboratively with the devolved administrations to ensure a UK-wide approach to our contingency plans which includes the supply of medicines to the devolved nations. Officials from the devolved administrations are members of a cross-Government working group and were informed of our 23 August announcements in advance.

Answered by

Department of Health and Social Care