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The government has urged pharmaceutical firms to have six weeks’ worth of drugs stockpiled, in readiness for the end of the Brexit transition period.
In a letter to medical suppliers, the Department of Health and Social Care said there would be no extension to the transition period after 31 December.
The DHSC acknowledged that global supply chains were under pressure because of the coronavirus crisis.
But it said having reserve stocks would provide a buffer against disruption.
“To build upon past work and ensure a co-ordinated approach, we will be asking suppliers to confirm their contingency plans for the end of the [transition period],” the department’s letter said.
The call from the government comes amid continued uncertainty about what form the UK’s relationship with the EU will take after the transition period ends.
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Last month, after informal talks in London, the EU’s chief negotiator, Michel Barnier, said “significant divergences” remained between the EU and the UK on a post-Brexit trade deal.
The UK has ruled out extending the 31 December deadline to reach a deal.
The government asked medical firms to consider avoiding sending supplies on short routes across the Channel, such as from Dover and Folkestone to Calais and Dunkirk.
Its letter also pointed out that regardless of whether the UK and the EU reach an agreement, the government plans to bring in new border controls in three stages, conclu