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Media And Political Bulletin – 08 August 2018

Media and Political Bulletin

08 August 2018

Media Summary

 No-deal Brexit could see EU patients miss out on cancer medication, says drugs firm AstraZeneca

Independent, Samuel Osborne, 8 August 2018

The Independent reports that the pharmaceutical company, AstraZeneca, has warned that a no-deal Brexit could mean that patients in the EU will not be able to receive medicines from the UK. The company warned that patients might miss out on drugs if the company does not ‘prepare wll’ for the possibility of a no-deal.

The article states that last the new health and social care secretary admitted officials were considering working with industry to stockpile drugs, medical devices and supplies in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Matt Hancock said he was “confident” a deal could be reached but said it was “responsible” to prepare for a range of outcomes.

Ministers to ask drug companies to stockpile six weeks of medication

HSJ, Sharon Brennan, 7 August 2018

The Health Services Journal has reported that the government plans to ask drug companies to stockpile six weeks of medication in case of a no-deal Brexit.

It states that the Department of Health and Social Care is expected to write to pharma companies as early as next week to ask them to increase the amount of the medical stock they hold, according to multiple sources.

It is part of a plan to tackle potential import delays if the UK crashes out of the EU without a deal in place.

The article states that it is understood the government will not offer additional funding for the extra medicines but will pay for increased warehousing capacity as part of a national deal with the industry. It will be a large amount of additional stock, requiring significant extra speciality storage capacity.

Parliamentary Coverage

There was no parliamentary coverage today.

Full Coverage

No-deal Brexit could see EU patients miss out on cancer medication, says drugs firm AstraZeneca

Independent, Samuel Osborne, 8 August 2018

A no-deal Brexit could mean patients in the EU will not be able to receive medicines from the UK, a pharmaceutical giant has said.

AstraZeneca warned patients might miss out on drugs if the company does not “prepare well” for the possibility of a no deal.

The company, which has its research headquarters in Cambridge, manufactures medicines for treating cancer, heart and lung problems.

It was carrying out tests in both the UK and EU as it prepares for “the strongest Brexit scenario, “ the company’s director of market access and external affairs, Ad Antonisse, said.

“If we do not prepare well for Brexit, patients in the EU may no longer be able to receive their medicines. Just because production happens to happen in the United Kingdom,” Mr Antonisse, told the Dutch government Brexit-loket site.

“Science is simply an international playing field.”

The Anglo-Swedish firm focuses on developing treatments for cancer, cardiovascular and metabolic diseases, and respiratory issues.

“These are serious diseases and you do not want Brexit to have a problem with delivery to the patient,” Mr Antonisse said.

Last month, the new health and social care secretary admitted officials were considering working with industry to stockpile drugs, medical devices and supplies in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Matt Hancock said he was “confident” a deal could be reached but said it was “responsible” to prepare for a range of outcomes.

This includes working up options with industry to stockpile medical supplies if a deal cannot be reached, Mr Hancock told the Health Select Committee on 24 July.

He said: “We are working right across Government to ensure that the health sector and the industry are prepared and that people’s health will be safeguarded in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

“This includes the chain of medical supplies, vaccines, medical devices, clinical consumables, blood products.

“And I have asked the department to work up options for stockpiling by industry.

“We are working with industry for the potential need for stockpiling in the event of a no-deal Brexit.”

Ministers to ask drug companies to stockpile six weeks of medication

HSJ, Sharon Brennan, 7 August 2018

Drug companies are due to be asked to stockpile up to six weeks of medications ahead of a potential no deal Brexit, HSJ understands.

The Department of Health and Social Care is expected to write to pharma companies as early as next week to ask them to increase the amount of the medical stock they hold, according to multiple sources.

It is part of a plan to tackle potential import delays if the UK crashes out of the EU without a deal in place.

Different suppliers currently hold different volumes of medication – the largest with around 10 weeks, but smaller firms are thought to hold about one to two weeks’ worth. Discussions are still ongoing but sources said it was expected that firms would be asked to store an additional six weeks’ stock, in addition to what they already held.

It is understood the government will not offer additional funding for the extra medicines but will pay for increased warehousing capacity as part of a national deal with the industry. It will be a large amount of additional stock, requiring significant extra speciality storage capacity.

The Association of British HealthTech Industries, the body that represents manufacturers of medical devices, warned last week that non-medical devices could also be delayed in the event of no-deal. It said there was “no guarantee” the UK would have enough stock by the start of April 2019.

It is understood that 90 per cent of the firms that manufacture these devices are small or medium sized businesses and may struggle to cover the costs of stockpiling.

National officials are also expected to write to NHS leaders to update them on Brexit planning.

On the basis of the proposed national arrangement with pharma, the DHSC is expected to tell NHS organisations and pharmacies not to stockpile medicines to avoid unnecessary spending.

It is unclear at what point the firms would be expected, based on the outlook for Brexit, to create the additional stock buffer.

HSJ also revealed last week widespread bulk purchasing could lead to prices “shooting up”.

The plans have been under discussion in government in recent weeks but are not completely finalised.

The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency published a technical notice setting out how a Brexit “implementation period” that would last until 2020 would affect the life sciences industry.

It said: “Businesses will be able to trade on the same terms as now up until the end of 2020”.

One industry insider said the document was “wishful thinking”.

In a statement the Association of British Pharmaceutical Industry pointed out: “We are clear that there needs to be an implementation period but whether there will be one is still subject to negotiation”.

Some senior figures in industry are pressing for government to make the arrangements clear as soon as possible.

Sanofi UK managing director Hugo Fry last week wrote to the health and social care secretary Matt Hancock to highlight it had planned to increase its stock in the UK from about 10 weeks’ worth to 14 weeks, “from April 2019”.

He said: “Sanofi is confident that its contingency plans will ensure that people in the UK can access the treatments they need after the UK leaves the European Union. Nevertheless, we have written to the health secretary and NHS chief executive… to advise the government and NHS of our actions.”

The DHSC was approached for comment.

Media And Political Bulletin – 08 August 2018

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