BRUSSELS (Reuters) – As the Oct. 31 deadline for Britain to leave the European Union approaches, health professionals are warning that shortages of some medicines could worsen in Europe in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
Illustration photo shows various medicine pills in their original packaging in Brussels, Belgium August 9, 2019. REUTERS/Yves Herman/Illustration
Britain’s food and drink lobby warned last week that the country would experience shortages of some fresh foods if there is a disorderly no-deal Brexit. Pharmaceutical companies have expressed similar concerns about medicines, and some have reserved air freight capacity to fly in supplies if needed..
But the impact on medical supplies will also be felt beyond Britain. About 45 million packs of medicines are shipped from Britain to the rest of the bloc every month, in trade worth nearly 12 billion pounds in 2016, according to a British parliament report.
Experts say some disruption is inevitable if Britain leaves the EU without a deal. British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said he will lead his country out of the EU on Oct. 31 without a deal if the EU refuses to negotiate a new divorce agreement.
Some drugs might not have the required regulatory approval by then to continue being brought in from Britain. About 1 billion packs go in one direction or the other each year, industry data show.
Increased customs controls at ports and other borders between Britain and the EU could also disrupt supplies of drugs and the chemical compounds needed to produce them, regulators and industry representatives say.
“Despite intensive preparation by industry for every scenario, a no-deal Brexit risks disruption to the supply of medicines” throughout the EU, Andy Powrie-Smith, an official at the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations,