Brexit woe continues for the pharma industry

As the Brexit deadline looms ever closer and the likelihood of ‘no-deal’ becomes ever more likely, there is still uncertainty surrounding the preparations that the Government has made for its departure from the EU.

Since becoming PM, Boris Johnson, has poured a large £434m of new funding in order to ensure there is a continuous medicine supply to UK patients in the transition period. The money is stated to cover costs for warehouses, freight transport and stockpiling of medicines but there seems to be no mention of the measures taken for the actual transport of these medicines across the Channel. With the UK Biotech Industry Association (BIA) noting that there are still no signs of ferry companies winning contracts to lay on extra services or even more worryingly that there is no sign that these contracts have even been put forward for tender.

The UK government, learning from its embarrassing error of signing a £13.8m contract with a company that owned no ferries, costing UK taxpayers £85m in the process has decided to take a more cautious approach this time around. Instead of agreeing contracts, it now has reserved ‘options’ with ferry companies for extra capacity.

The BIA wants greater closure with how the £434m will be spent. With hopes that the money will go towards procurement of ferries rather than this soft consideration as “options.” The BIA in the past have been vocal around freight transport, stressing the need for contracts to be agreed and for routes to already be known in advance, to guarantee the UK receives vital medicines for its patients.

EMIG, the UK pharma industry group which represents a range of companies including SME’s reported that 25% of companies have already altered their supply routes and 85% of the companies that would require extra storage have been successful in sourcing the extra space. However, it is not all good news as 44% of the companies that had already begun stockpiling in preparation for the June deadline have already run down/ running down their stockpiles. This report seems to indicate that the extra time given by the delay has allowed companies to make significant headway in their preparations.

In the upcoming months it should be extremely interesting to follow updates, as it finally seems that Brexit will take effect.


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