UK calls for extra six weeks of Brexit drug stockpiles

LONDON (Reuters) – The British government called on Thursday for drugmakers to build an additional six weeks of medicines stockpiles to cope with potential supply disruption in the event of a no-deal Brexit – a target the industry said would be challenging.

Used blister packets that contained medicines, tablets and pills are seen, in this picture illustration taken June 30, 2018. REUTERS/Russell Boyce/Illustration

In a letter here to pharmaceutical companies, the government asked manufacturers “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 29th March 2019”.

The highly regulated drugs sector is one of the most vulnerable to Britain’s decision to leave the European Union because of uncertainty as to how medicines oversight will function in the event of an abrupt exit next March.

That has sparked fears of drug shortages, and some companies – including AstraZeneca, Sanofi and Novartis – have already said they plan to increase stockpiles in Britain in case of a no-deal Brexit.

Steve Bates, chief executive of the UK Bioindustry Association, said delivering the additional six weeks supply across the industry in less than 200 days would be “a massive challenge”.

Currently, medicines regulation is governed at a pan-European level but Britain is set to leave that EU regulatory system after Brexit, prompting many dr

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