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NHS planning to safeguard medicines supply in case of no-deal Brexit

NHS England boss Simon Stevens said government departments are working to find a solution for medicines and medical equipment shortages that may occur following a no-deal Brexit.

Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England


Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, said there is “significant planning” going on regarding medicines supply in the face of Brexit

Simon Stevens has confirmed that the government is working on plans to ensure supplies of medicines and medical equipment from Europe should the UK end up with a no-deal Brexit.

Speaking on BBC’s The Andrew Marr Show on 1 July 2018, the NHS England chief executive said there was now “significant planning” going on within the government to safeguard imports of medicines from the EU if the UK has to leave without a deal in place.

“There is now significant planning going on around all the scenarios,” he said.

“There is extensive work under way now between the Department of Health, other parts of the government, the life sciences industry and pharma companies.

“Nobody is pretending this is a desirable situation but if that is where we get to that will have been foreseen.”

Stevens was asked if he could confirm that medicines from the EU, including the 37 million packs of medicines that arrive in the UK each month, could be guaranteed.

“Nobody is in any doubt whatsoever that top of the list in terms of ensuring continued supplies for all the things we need in this country has got to be those medical supplies,” he said.

Mike Thompson, chief executive of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, and Steve Bates, chief executive of the BioIndustry Association, issued a joint statement following the EU Council meeting of 28–29 June 2018, which discussed the latest Brexit negotiations.

“We are now fewer than nine months away from the day the UK leaves the EU and as it stands we still do not have a deal on the future relationship or any certainty on the conditions our companies are expected to operate under come 29 March 2019,” they said.

“Every month, 45 million packs of medicines move from the UK to the EU and 37 million come back the other way.

“Every month, the health of millions of EU and UK patients are dependent on our industry’s ability to move medicines and vaccines across borders without delays or interruption.”

Citation: The Pharmaceutical Journal DOI: 10.1211/PJ.2018.20205098

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