The UK government is preparing for a “worst-case” Brexit scenario in which no deal is reached between the country and the European Union by March 29, the date the country is slated to leave the EU, according to a recent release from UK health minister Matt Hancock.
Preparations include increasing the stock holding capacity in the country and beginning to stockpile medical supplies to address possible border delays that may result from a ‘no deal’ exit. Efforts are also underway to develop measures to “allow continued movement of products into the UK from the EU at short notice,” according to the release.
Border delays could last as long as six months, Hancock warns, saying that there will be “significantly reduced access across short straits,” with impacts most likely to be felt in crossings into Dover and Folkestone.
“This is very much a worst-case scenario. In a ‘no deal’ exit from the EU we would, of course, be pressing member states hard to introduce pragmatic arrangements to ensure the continued full flow of goods which would be to their benefit as well as ours. Nevertheless, as a responsible Government, we have a duty to plan for all scenarios. And in areas where we cannot tolerate significant risk to the flow of goods, such as with medicines and medical products, we need to have contingency plans in place for this worst-case planning assumption,” Hancock wrote in the release. “The Government recognizes the vital importance of medicines and medical products and is working to ensure that there is sufficient roll-on, roll-off freight capacity to enable these vital products to continue to move freely in to the UK. The Government has also agreed that medicines and medical products will be prioritised on these alternative routes to ensure that the flow of all these products will continue unimpeded after 29 March 2019.”
Hancock said that the Dept. of Health & Social Care has been working with industry members to shore up supply lines, and urged “any company that routinely imports products from other EU countries” that has not yet engaged with them to contact them immediately.
In August, the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency released an update on what medtech and pharmaceutical companies can expect to see as the country begins to implement plans to split from the European Union.