News

Media And Political Bulletin – 24 August 2018

Media and Political Bulletin

24 August 2018

Media Summary

Yesterday, the Department for Health and Social Care sent a letter to all medicine manufacturers and released the first tranche of its technical notices, outlining the Government’s contingency plans in the event of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit.

The letter detailed instructions from the Government for pharmaceutical companies to stockpile an additional six weeks worth of medicines to offset the danger of significant shortages in the event of a ‘no-deal.’

The Government has also asked companies that supply medicines with short shelf lives to ensure that they have plans in place to air-freight products to avoid potential delays at the borders. The papers  released yesterday also confirmed that the UK would mirror European standards for testing medicines.

Comprehensive write-ups of this announcement on the Government’s medicines contingency planning The TimesThe GuardianAl Jazeera , The Irish TimesThe Financial TimesThe Independent, The SunSky and The London Evening Standard

The Healthcare Distribution Association issued a press release in response to the Government’s plans yesterday supporting the proposals to prevent disruptions to the supply of medicines to patients through the stockpiling of medicines, noting that all possible outcomes of the ongoing negotiations should be planned for. However, the Association emphasised that securing a Brexit deal should remain the Government’s primary objective.

Other industry bodies also responded to the Government’s plan yesterday, warning that Britain is likely to be treated as a lower-priority market, with drug companies initially focusing on securing a license to sell innovative medicines in the larger European market. They also raised concern about whether there is enough specialist warehouse space available in the UK to hold the extra stock, with most medicines requiring refrigeration.

The ABPI released a press release, in which Mike Thompson, the Chief Executive welcomed the guidance but stressed that ‘increasing stocks of medicines is just one important part of detailed contingency planning that will be needed by pharmaceutical companies, the Government and the NHS.’

Also responding to the announcement, Niall Dickson, co-chair of the Brexit Health Alliance, said: ‘We need to be clear that a ‘no deal’ scenario is not in the interest of patients. Both sides must rapidly agree the terms of the UK’s withdrawal and a future relationship based on cooperation to protect public health, control infectious diseases and manage medicine safety.’

And Steve Bates, Chief Executive of the BioIndustry Association, said the new guidance ‘gives greater clarity on how UK medicines regulation will work in the scenario of ‘no deal’, something we do not want to see.’

Brexit latest: pharma companies told to stockpile six weeks more medicines but pharmacists warned not to over-order

Pharmacy Business, Neil Trainis, 23 August 2018

Pharmacy Business also reports on the fact that pharmaceutical companies have been told by the government to stockpile an additional six weeks’ worth of medicines. The article includes a statement from Martin Sawer, Executive Director of the HDA who said that ‘We believe this is a sensible and pragmatic approach at this stage. However, we are clear that a Brexit agreement must still be the primary objective.’

Firms urged to stockpile drugs to prevent Brexit shortages

Pharmaphorum, Richard Staines, 24 August 2018

Pharmaphorum’s write-up also includes comments from Martin Sawer, who said that ‘We believe this is a sensible and pragmatic approach at this stage. However, we are clear that a Brexit agreement must still be the primary objective.’

Government warns pharmacies must not stockpile medicines

P3 Pharmacy, 23 August 2018

P3 pharmacy quoted extensively from the HDA in their article, stating that:

HDA UK welcomed the proposals, saying that all possible outcomes of the ongoing negotiations should be planned for.

The organisation confirmed that it has been working with the DHSC and other medicines supply chain representatives on assessing current levels of preparedness to ensure the supply of medicines to patients across the UK, including the building up of appropriate buffer stocks.

“We welcome the Government’s plans to develop contingency plans to build up buffer stocks, as they recognise the importance of ensuring patients continue to receive their medicines in the right place, at the right time. We believe this is a sensible and pragmatic approach at this stage. However, we are clear that a Brexit agreement must still be the primary objective,” commented Martin Sawer, HDA’s executive director.

The process will require careful management to avoid stock shortages, suggested Mr Sawer. “HDA members ensure a resilient and flexible supply chain that is very well placed to support the Government’s plans. However, the devil will be in the detail, with the need for any stockpiling to be carefully managed in order to avoid challenges such as medicine shortages, caused by changes in purchasing patterns.”

Association members are in constant contact with their supply chain partners, from manufacturing to dispensing in order to understand likely demand and potential supply pinch-points, he said.

While the government is confident of a good deal with the EU, “as a responsible government, we continue to prepare proportionately for all scenarios,” said the health secretary.

DHSC has “stepped up” planning for a no deal scenario, he advised, to ensure a “sufficient and seamless” medicines supply. He said that he was confident that the proposal gives a clear basis for the sector to plan ahead, “so that patients can continue to receive high quality care unhindered”.

Parliamentary Coverage

There was no parliamentary coverage today.

Full Coverage

The price of no deal: Raab raises spectre of shortages and expense

The Times, Billy Kenber, 24 August 2018

Businesses face swathes of new red tape, patients could struggle to access medicines and holidaymakers will be hit by increased credit and debit card charges in the event of a no-deal Brexit, Britons were warned yesterday.

A batch of 24 technical papers published by the government disclosed its plans for sectors including banking, clinical trials, nuclear research, workplace rights, foreign aid and organic food. They lay bare the consequences of failing to reach an agreement with the European Union before Britain’s departure on March 29.

Consumers

Consumers face a return of “rip-off” charges for using credit and debit cards in the EU if Britain leaves with no deal.

British citizens living in Europe also risk huge financial uncertainty in such a scenario, with the government unable to guarantee that they would be able to continue accessing their pension and bank accounts.

Several technical notes released yesterday reveal the adverse consequences for shoppers, holidaymakers and banking customers if the UK fails to reach a trade agreement with the EU. They warned that UK payment services providers would lose direct access to the EU’s payment infrastructure, resulting in a “likely increase” in the cost of card payments between the UK and the EU.

Such payments would no longer be covered by a surcharge ban introduced in January which prevents businesses from levying extra charges for payment by credit or debit card.

When introducing the ban, the Treasury described the card charges, which previously cost Britons more than £150 million a year, as “rip-off fees”.

One paper warned that problems could arise for customers of UK financial firms who are living in Europe because the companies will lose their ability to sell financial services across the EU with no regulatory barriers. It said that, unless the EU takes action, these customers could “lose the ability to access existing lending and deposit services, insurance contracts (such as life insurance contracts and annuities)”.

Pharmaceuticals

Drug manufacturers have been told to stockpile an extra six weeks’ worth of medicines to prepare for the disruption of a possible no-deal Brexit.

Patients could also face long delays to access new medicines, with manufacturers forced to receive approval from the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), the UK regulator, if no agreement has been reached before Britain leaves the EU.

Although those medicines already approved by the European medicines regulator will automatically be granted a UK licence, this will not apply to those that are midway through the approval process. In these cases manufacturers would need to start a new application with the MHRA in order to sell the drug in the UK.

The process of obtaining a marketing authorisation from the MHRA typically takes up to two years, although the government hopes this will be speeded up by the European Medicines Agency agreeing to share information and data.

Industry figures have also warned that Britain is likely to be treated as a lower-priority market, with drug companies initially focusing on securing a licence to sell innovative medicines in the larger European market.

Yesterday Matt Hancock, the health secretary, asked drug companies to “ensure they have a minimum of six weeks additional supply in the UK”. Some pharmaceutical companies, including Astrazeneca and major European manufacturers operating in the UK, including Sanofi and Novartis, had already begun to increase stockpiles.

Other industry experts raised concerns about whether there is enough specialist warehouse space available in the UK to hold the extra stock, with most medicines requiring refrigeration.

Companies that supply medicines with short shelf lives are being asked to ensure that they have plans in place to air-freight products to avoid potential delays at the borders.

Hospitals, GPs and pharmacies have been told they do not need to stockpile medicines and doctors have been asked not to write longer prescriptions.

Papers released yesterday also confirmed that the UK would mirror European standards for testing medicines.

Tobacco manufacturers and farmers

Photographs of damaged lungs and dead bodies on cigarette packets would have to be replaced with new images because the copyright is owned by the European Commission.

Meanwhile in a no-deal scenario British farmers would face being unable to export organic food for up to nine months while they wait for the European Commission to approve UK certification bodies.

The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs is also in the process of developing new logos for organic food because Britain would no longer be able to use the EU’s one.

The paper pledged to pay farm subsidies until the end of the present parliament, expected to be 2022.

Nuclear

Britain’s civil nuclear operators would be regulated by a new Office for Nuclear Regulation, with the note claiming “the new regime is not dependent on there being a deal with the EU and Euratom”.

However, the details of a new domestic inspection regime and other safeguards have yet to be finalised.

Companies importing nuclear material from the EU are told to “engage” with Euratom over having their contracts “reapproved” by the body. The government hints it will stockpile, saying it will “ensure appropriate contingency supply arrangements are in place”.

There would be new rules for the management of spent nuclear waste and importing nations will not have to give authorisations to allow UK waste to be given within two months. UK operators will not have to seek EU approval for nuclear waste disposal or of plans to build plants.

Some, but not all, existing civil nuclear research grants will be underwritten until 2020.

Aid

Britain will cover aid funding potentially worth hundreds of millions of pounds in the case of no deal. The government has pledged to underwrite projects where a UK aid charity is the lead partner or the sole organisation involved if the EU pulls funding.

Northern Ireland

Businesses in Northern Ireland trading across the Irish border have been told to contact the Irish government for advice on what to do in the event of no deal.

The UK government acknowledged that there were “very significant challenges” but did not provide any further information. Sinn Féin said the failure to provide a technical note on Ireland raised questions about the government’s commitment to the backstop.

Students

The government confirmed a previous pledge to continue funding the Erasmus student exchange programme until at least the end of 2020.

Trade

British companies exporting to the EU will face a mountain of red tape if there is no deal, the government said, recommending that they consider hiring customs agents to help them to deal with it.

The Department for Exiting the EU said trade with the bloc would revert to “non-preferential, World Trade Organisation terms”. It suggested that exporters should think about using “the services of a customs broker, freight forwarder or logistics provider to help, or alternatively secure the appropriate software and authorisations”.

Government warns pharmacies must not stockpile medicines

P3 Pharmacy, 23 August 2018

Guidance from the health secretary that healthcare organisations such as community pharmacies should not stockpile medicines over concerns of a no deal Brexit has been welcomed by the The Healthcare Distribution Association (HDA UK).

Pharmaceutical companies should prepare to ensure they have an additional six weeks’ supply of medicines on top of their normal stock levels, the Government has said as part of plans to prepare for the possibility of a no deal.

Secretary of State for Health Matt Hancock outlined the plans in a letter to the NHS.

However, community pharmacies, hospitals, and GPs do not need to stockpile medicines, the government advised. Incidents involving the over-ordering of medicines will be investigated, warned the letter.

There is also no need for clinicians to write longer than normal prescriptions and patients should not store additional medicines at home.

HDA UK welcomed the proposals, saying that all possible outcomes of the ongoing negotiations should be planned for.

The organisation confirmed that it has been working with the DHSC and other medicines supply chain representatives on assessing current levels of preparedness to ensure the supply of medicines to patients across the UK, including the building up of appropriate buffer stocks.

“We welcome the Government’s plans to develop contingency plans to build up buffer stocks, as they recognise the importance of ensuring patients continue to receive their medicines in the right place, at the right time. We believe this is a sensible and pragmatic approach at this stage. However, we are clear that a Brexit agreement must still be the primary objective,” commented Martin Sawer, HDA’s executive director.

The process will require careful management to avoid stock shortages, suggested Mr Sawer. “HDA members ensure a resilient and flexible supply chain that is very well placed to support the Government’s plans. However, the devil will be in the detail, with the need for any stockpiling to be carefully managed in order to avoid challenges such as medicine shortages, caused by changes in purchasing patterns.”

Association members are in constant contact with their supply chain partners, from manufacturing to dispensing in order to understand likely demand and potential supply pinch-points, he said.

While the government is confident of a good deal with the EU, “as a responsible government, we continue to prepare proportionately for all scenarios,” said the health secretary.

DHSC has “stepped up” planning for a no deal scenario, he advised, to ensure a “sufficient and seamless” medicines supply. He said that he was confident that the proposal gives a clear basis for the sector to plan ahead, “so that patients can continue to receive high quality care unhindered”.

Firms urged to stockpile drugs to prevent Brexit shortages

Pharmaphorum, Richard Staines, 24 August 2018

The UK government has outlined how it will ensure the supply of medicines continues in the event of a “no deal” Brexit, urging companies to stockpile six weeks’ worth of medicine.

With the March 2019 Brexit deadline looming ever closer, there are mounting concerns that the UK will be unable to reach an agreement over the country’s future relationship with the EU.

Although the government is insisting this is unlikely, it has published a series of documents to help businesses plan for a no-deal scenario, including details about regulation of medicines.

The document shows the government is willing to take a pragmatic approach in the event of a no-deal Brexit, when the UK would cease to be a member of the EMA.

Pharma companies are already drawing up contingency plans for a no-deal scenario, and regulators have warned that this is a prudent course of action given the slow pace of negotiations.

After Brexit, the government will recognise and use medicines and vaccines licensed and manufactured in the EU.

This leaves companies free to focus on medicines that have the most complex supply chains, said the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI) trade body.

The government is also recommending that wholesalers increase their stocks of medicines to ensure patients continue to get access in the event of a ‘no deal’.

Other measures in the document include a public consultation, scheduled for the autumn, on how the UK’s Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA) will operate in the advent of Brexit.

There will also be guidance on how to file information about medicines such as details about safety monitoring with the MHRA following Brexit, and a reassurance that systems to do this will be up and running by March.

But Mike Thompson, chief executive of the ABPI, said that increasing stocks was one part of a detailed contingency plan needed by pharma, the government and the NHS.

Thompson said: “By agreeing to recognise and use medicines and vaccines licensed and manufactured in the EU, the UK Government has taken an important step to protect patients. We urge the EU Commission to do the same.”

“We need to be clear that a ‘no deal’ scenario is not in the interest of patients. Both sides must rapidly agree the terms of the UK’s withdrawal and a future relationship based on cooperation to protect public health, control infectious diseases and manage medicine safety.”

Representing drug wholesalers, the UK’s Healthcare Distribution Association (HDA UK), said: “We believe this is a sensible and pragmatic approach at this stage. However, we are clear that a Brexit agreement must still be the primary objective.”

Niall Dickson, co-chair of the Brexit Health Alliance, an umbrella organisation representing stakeholders from the NHS, medical research, industry, patients and public health organisations said: “What we need is a categorical assurance that patients will continue to get the medicines and treatment they need, no matter what happens in the negotiations. This guidance is a first step, but only a first step, towards that.”

Brexit latest: pharma companies told to stockpile six weeks more medicines but pharmacists warned not to over-order

Pharmacy Business, Neil Trainis, 23 August 2018

Pharmaceutical companies have been told by the government to stockpile an additional six weeks’ worth of medicines to offset the danger of significant shortages in the event of a no-deal Brexit scenario, although community pharmacists have been instructed not to stock more medicines.

The health secretary Matt Hancock (pictured) today wrote to NHS organisations outlining the government’s preparations if it fails to secure a deal for the UK’s exit from the European Union in March next year.

“Under the medicines scheme, pharmaceutical companies should ensure therefore they have an additional six weeks supply of medicines in the UK on top of their own normal stock levels,” he said.

“The scheme also includes separate arrangements for the air freight of medicines with short shelf-lives, such as medical radioisotopes. The government is working closely with companies who provide medicines in the UK to ensure patients continue to get the medicines they need. I am today also writing to pharmaceutical companies with more details.”

However, Hancock said “local stockpiling” was unnecessary and warned that any over-ordering of stock will be investigated, advice that should put community pharmacists on guard.

“Hospitals, GPs and community pharmacies throughout the UK do not need to take any steps to stockpile additional medicines beyond their business-as-usual stock levels. There is also no need for clinicians to write longer NHS prescriptions,” he said.

“Local stockpiling is not necessary and any incidences involving the over-ordering of medicines will be investigated and followed up with the relevant chief or responsible pharmacist directly.

“Clinicians should advise patients that the government has plans in place to ensure a continued supply of medicines to patients from the moment we leave the EU. Patients will not need to and should not seek to store additional medicines at home.”

The likes of Novartis, AstraZeneca and Sanofi have indicated a willingness to increase their stockpiles of medicines in the UK but the government said it would consider using medicines licensed and tested in the EU in an attempt to avert shortages in Britain.

Mike Thompson, chief executive of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, said: “The pharmaceutical industry is doing everything in its power to minimise disruption of medicine supply in every possible Brexit outcome including a no deal.

“By agreeing to recognise and use medicines and vaccines licensed and manufactured in the EU, the UK government has taken an important step to protect patients. We urge the EU Commission to do the same.

“We need to be clear that a no deal scenario is not in the interest of patients. Both sides must rapidly agree the terms of the UK’s withdrawal and a future relationship based on co-operation to protect public health, control infectious diseases and manage medicine safety.”

Martin Sawer, executive director of the Healthcare Distribution Association who represent wholesalers, said: “We welcome the government’s plans to develop contingency plans to build up buffer stocks, as they recognise the importance of ensuring patients continue to receive their medicines in the right place, at the right time.

We believe this is a sensible and pragmatic approach at this stage. However, we are clear that a Brexit agreement must still be the primary objective.

“HDA members ensure a resilient and flexible supply chain that is very well placed to support the government’s plans. However, the devil will be in the detail, with the need for any stockpiling to be carefully managed in order to avoid challenges such as medicine shortages, caused by changes in purchasing patterns.”

Warwick Smith, director general of the British Generic Manufacturers Association and British Biosimilars Association, said: “We have been discussing with the government for some time how to ensure that the medicines supply chain continues to operate effectively in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

“Clearly, the complex nature of the manufacture and supply of medicines in Europe means that they and their constituent parts may cross many borders before reaching patients.

“A deal between the UK and the EU27 to maintain these free flows is obviously the only way to ensure that the supply of medicines is not disrupted. The government has shown a welcome determination to act pragmatically on the regulation of medicines to ensure their continued supply to British patients. This is something to which they and we, as the generic and biosimilar medicines industries, are committed.

“But the UK government alone cannot ensure that there are no delays at the UK’s external borders in the event of a no-deal Brexit. So it is wise for the government to plan for appropriate stockpiling of medicines to deal with possible delays.

“We particularly welcome the fact that the government is putting in place planning to enable additional stocks of medicines held by manufacturers in the UK to be matched with available warehousing space.

rehousing approved for pharmaceutical use is a limited resource and medicines manufacturers operating independently cannot be expected to ensure that it is shared out and matched to demand. Only the government can do this and we welcome the fact that planning is well underway.”

Each month about 45 million packs of medicine move from the UK to Europe with 37 million packs moving the other way.

ABPI responds to Brexit ‘no deal’ planning guidance

ABPI, Press Release, 23 August 2018

The ABPI today welcomes the publication of technical notices issued by the Government and the letter from the Department of Health and Social Care on medicines supply contingency planning. This gives guidance to pharmaceutical companies as they prepare for Brexit.

The technical notices give pharmaceutical companies more clarity that in the event of ‘no deal’, the UK Government will take a pragmatic approach to the regulation of medicines by recognising and using medicines and vaccines which have been licensed and manufactured in the EU. Companies can now focus on those medicines which have the most complex supply chains.

The ABPI also welcomes the guidance on increasing stocks of medicines, which will help NHS patients to continue to get the medicines they need in the event of a ‘no deal’.  However, it is important to recognise that increasing stocks of medicines is just one important part of detailed contingency planning that will be needed by pharmaceutical companies, the Government and the NHS.

Mike Thompson, Chief Executive of the ABPI, said:

“The pharmaceutical industry is doing everything in its power to minimise disruption of medicine supply in every possible Brexit outcome – including a ‘no deal’.

“By agreeing to recognise and use medicines and vaccines licensed and manufactured in the EU, the UK Government has taken an important step to protect patients.  We urge the EU Commission to do the same.

“We need to be clear that a ‘no deal’ scenario is not in the interest of patients.  Both sides must rapidly agree the terms of the UK’s withdrawal and a future relationship based on cooperation to protect public health, control infectious diseases and manage medicine safety.”

Brexit ‘no deal’ advice released: Dominic Raab reveals contigency plans as Labour warns of medicine shortages and delays at ports

The London Evening Standard, Nicholas Cecil, 23 August 2018

Britain should not to be “alarmed” by the risks of a  no-deal Brexit, ministers said today as they published 25 contingency plans to cope with a crisis departure from the European Union.

Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab released the first batch of about 80 papers, covering topics such as how the City can prepare for any turmoil, avoiding border delays at Dover, and ensuring medicine supplies do not run out, including those for children.

“People and businesses should not be alarmed by  no-deal planning and preparation, nor read into it any pessimism,” ministers urged, only months before Brexit Day next March.

“Instead they should be reassured that we are taking a responsible approach, ensuring the UK’s exit can be as smooth as possible in all scenarios.”

Labour immediately accused the Government of going into “panic mode”, as calls increased for a no deal to be ruled out amid worries that a bungled Brexit would send the Pound into a nosedive, lead to long border delays and risk food and medicine shortages.

The papers include:

An admission that UK action to mitigate the impact of City firms losing “passporting” rights to do business in the EU is “not sufficient to fully address the risks”. It calls for more co-operation from Brussels.

Encouragement for banks and other Square Mile businesses to set up subsidiaries in the EU so they can limit the impact from Brexit of doing deals on the Continent.

An admission that the cost of using credit cards to purchase goods from the EU is likely to rise and a surcharge ban could go.

An emphasis that the EU has suggested it would apply regulations and tariffs at borders with the UK as a “third country” in a no-deal scenario, including checks for customs and sanitary standards, and verification of compliance with EU norms. This will inevitably spark concerns over border delays.

A signal that checks could be cut back at UK borders. It states “HMRC will work closely with industry to ensure its interventions are conducted in a way which minimise delays and additional burdens for legitimate trade, while robustly ensuring compliance. The approach of continuity does not mean that everything will stay the same, but the priority is maximising stability at the point of departure through the government’s action.”

Brussels is urged to provide “clarity” on what mitigation measures it might introduce to limit the impact of border checks.

A revelation that new pictures would have to be introduced on cigarette packets due to the copyright being held by the European Commission.

An extra six weeks of medicines are being stockpiled but Mr Raab stopped short of giving a categoric assurance that patients would not be affected by a chaotic Brexit.

The papers also stress: “In a no deal there will be a UK system for regulation of paediatric medicines in which the UK will ensure incentives remain to encourage such medicines onto the UK market.”

However, Mr Raab admitted: “There are potential issues around the border in the worst case scenario so it’s right to say that we will be working with industry around the stockpiling of medicines for a working assumption of six weeks.”

Health chiefs are warning that patients’ lives could be put in danger if there are shortages of vital drugs or treatment.

Addressing widespread concerns, Mr Raab told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “There are some risks here … but let’s not have the risks blown out of proportion and out of context.

“These technical notices and the ones that will follow are a sensible, measured and proportionate approach to minimising the impact of no deal on British firms, citizens, charities and public bodies.”

He added that agreement with the EU authorities is still needed to ensure retired British expats in EU countries continue to get their pensions.

Mr Raab insisted he was still confident about a trade deal with Brussels.

Shadow Brexit secretary Sir Keir Starmer said: “No deal means we have not reached agreement on anything with the EU, so that’s no deal on EU citizens, no deal on trade, no deal on security and so on. The idea that technical notices issued eight weeks before we are supposed to reach agreement, is going to reassure anybody I think is fanciful.”

“It actually reflects the fact that these negotiations are going badly and the Government is now moving into panic mode.”

DON’T PANIC Don’t stockpile medicines at home in case of no-deal Brexit, government tells Brits

The Sun, Natasha Clark, 23 August 2018

Reassuring those who were worried about no-deal scare stories today, ministers released a series of documents aimed at businesses and other bodies to make sure they are ready for Brexit no matter what happens.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock has written to colleagues to notify them of the latest plans.

He said that ministers are working to make sure patients get the medicines that they need come next March.

Hospitals, GPs and community pharmacies do not need to take any steps to stockpile additional medicines, beyond their business as usual stock levels,” he said.

He said that ministers are working to make sure patients get the medicines that they need come next March.

Hospitals, GPs and community pharmacies do not need to take any steps to stockpile additional medicines, beyond their business as usual stock levels,” he said.

“There is also no need for clinicians to write longer NHS prescriptions. Local stockpiling is not necessary”.

“Patients will not need to and should not seek to store additional medicines at home,” he explained.

Earlier this week health bosses warned that hospitals could run out of life-savings drugs in a no-deal situation.

This is because they haven’t prepared for what might happen if the UK leaves without a deal.

But today Brexit Secretary Dominic Raab insisted it was “unlikely” that we would leave next March with no agreement.

He said: “I’m still confident a good deal is within our sights. We have got agreement on about 80 per cent of the issues.”

And he added: “Our institutions will be ready for Brexit, deal or no deal.”

But other technical notices released today were more negative about the impact of no deal.

The cost of using your card in Europe “will likely increase”, according to the documents, meaning more expensive holidays and online shopping will be pricier too.

But Brits will still be able to enjoy the BLT after we leave, he said, after scare stories there might not be enough supplies for sandwiches.

“Let me assure you that, contrary to one of the wilder claims, you will still be able to enjoy a BLT after Brexit, and there are no plans to deploy the army to maintain food supplies,” he said.

The 25 papers released show:

Imports from Europe would be subject to customs duties and VAT from day one of a No Deal outcome

European banks will be able to operate in Britain for at least three years without any change

But UK institutions would have to strike their own deal to avoid being shut out of the EU market completely

Ministers are refusing to impose new checks on European medicines because they fear harming the NHS

Organic farmers could be badly hit because their goods would be shut out from the continent

Cigarette packets would get new warning images – because the current ones belong to Brussels

Civil servants are ramping up their work on No Deal with thousands more officials involved in the plan

Government tells drug companies to stockpile six weeks’ worth of medicine in case of no-deal Brexit

The Independent, Ashley Cowburn, 23 August 2018

Health secretary Matt Hancock has told drug companies to ensure they have six weeks additional supplies of medicines on top of their normal stockpiles to avoid disruption caused by a possible no-deal Brexit.

The remarks from Mr Hancock came as Dominic Raab, the Brexit secretary, released the first tranche of technical notes, outlining the government’s preparations and warnings to businesses if Britain crashes out of the bloc without a deal.

Among the 24 detailed papers it was also revealed that credit card users could be hit with a new “Brexit tax” amounting to £166m, UK citizens living in Europe face the prospect of losing access to pension income and new red tape could delay foreign sperm donations arriving in Britain.

In one of the most stark warnings, Mr Hancock told NHS staff and service providers that the move to increase pharmaceutical companies’ stockpiles was necessary “in case imports from the EU through certain routes” are affected if Theresa May fails to strike a deal with negotiators in Brussels.

The request, according to the chief executive of the UK Bioindustry Association’s chief executive, Steve Bates, would be a “massive challenge” for the industry to deliver in less than 200 days.

But Mr Hancock also warned that hospitals, GPs and community pharmacies should not hoard or stockpile additional drugs “beyond their business” as usual levels.

“There is no need for clinicians to write longer NHS prescriptions,” he said. “Local stockpiling is not necessary and any incidences involving over ordering medicines will be investigated.”

He continued: “Clinicians should advise patients that the government has plans in place to ensure a continued supply of medicines to patients from the moment we leave the EU. Patients will not need and should not seek to store additional medicines at home”.

Responding to Mr Hancock’s letter to health officials on Thursday, the Labour MP Owen Smith, a supporter of the pro-EU campaign group Best for Britain, said: “I don’t remember anyone warning that Brexit would mean we’d have stockpile drugs or wrap the NHS in red tape.

“But every day it seems as though there is another hidden cost being revealed. Perhaps, [Boris] Johnson, [Michael] Gove, [Nigel] Farage, [Dominic] Raab and the rest of the Brexit snake oil salesmen should have told us to read the small print. That would have been more honest, at least.

“How on earth have we ended up in a situation where the government needs to ensure Britain is prepared to have medicines flown in, in order to protect the lives of patients.”

Unveiling the first two-dozen documents on Thursday, ministers urged the public “not to be alarmed” by the planning for a no deal scenario as they set out some of the broad and deep impacts of leaving the bloc without a deal – for example, tobacco manufacturers will even be forced to find new warning pictures for their product packets.

A workable solution to the issue of the Irish border was also missing from the first batch of no-deal planning papers, with more expected next month.

In a section dealing with individual consumers of financial services, officials said: “The cost of credit card payments between the UK and the EU will likely increase, and these cross-border payments will no longer be covered by the surcharging ban (which prevents businesses from being able to charge consumers for using a specific payment method).”

The senior Labour MP Hilary Benn, who chairs parliament’s Brexit Select Committee, said “a lot of questions remain to be answered” following the publication of the documents.

He said: “These papers tell us three things. First, they confirm that no deal, far from being better than a bad deal, would be very damaging economically.

“Businesses that export to the EU would face the cost and bureaucracy of customs, safety and security and rules of origin declarations for the first time, and in certain sectors, tariffs.

“Having wasted two years, these papers show exactly why no deal is unacceptable and why ministers must now ensure that an agreement is reached with the EU which provides a transition period and protects jobs, trade and investment.”

But in a speech in Westminster, Mr Raab said a good deal with Brussels is “within our sights”, adding:  “We have made clear that if negotiations don’t achieve the optimum outcome we will continue to be a responsible European neighbor and partner.”

Medicine stockpiles and emergency airlifts in the event of ‘no-deal’ Brexit

Sky News, Paul Kelso, 23 August 2018

Stockpiles of at least six week’s supply of medicines will be held in the event of a “no-deal” Brexit, with urgent medicines airlifted to the UK to avoid lengthy delays at road, rail and sea borders.

The government has asked the pharmaceutical industry to make plans to hold additional stocks amid concerns that hospitals and pharmacists could run short of supplies in the event of disruption at UK borders.

The instruction, which relates to medicines with a short shelf-life such as radioactive isotopes, implies that the government envisages there could sizeable delays of more than 24 hours at borders in the event the UK falls out of the European Union without a deal.

Hospitals, GPs and community pharmacies meanwhile have been explicitly told not to hold extra stocks, and warned that they could face investigation for over-ordering.

In a letter sent to the pharmaceutical industry, Health and Social Care Secretary Matt Hancock writes: “In the unlikely event we leave the EU without a deal in March 2019, based on the current cross-government planning scenario we will ensure the UK has an additional six weeks supply of medicines in case imports from the EU through certain routes are affected.

“We recognise that there are some products that have short shelf lives and cannot be stockpiled.

“Where such products are at present imported to the UK from the EU/EEA via road haulage and roll-on, roll-off sea, road and rail routes, the department is asking suppliers to ensure they have plans in place to air freight those products to avoid any border delays that may arise at the end of March next year in the event of a no deal exit from the EU.”

In a separate letter to the healthcare sector Mr Hancock urges NHS staff to persuade patients they should not attempt to stockpile medicines, and warned that any organisations that over-order will be investigated.

“Hospitals, GPs and community pharmacies throughout the UK do not need to take any steps to stockpile additional medicines, beyond their business as usual stock levels,” he writes.

“There is also no need for clinicians to write longer NHS prescriptions.

“Local stockpiling is not necessary and any incidences involving the over ordering of medicines will be investigated and followed up with the relevant Chief or Responsible Pharmacist directly.

“Clinicians should advise patients that the government has plans in place to ensure a continued supply of medicines to patients from the moment we leave the EU.

“Patients will not need to and should not seek to store additional medicines at home.”

Plans to ensure the continued supply of medical devices are less clear.

Mr Hancock has written to manufacturers asking them to get in touch so that contingency planning can begin next month.

NHS leaders offered a cautious welcome to the advice.

Niall Dickson, co-chair of the Brexit Health Alliance, said: “What we need is a categorical assurance that patients will continue to get the medicines and treatment they need, no matter what happens in the negotiations.

“This guidance is a first step, but only a first step, towards that.

“The NHS will now want to see more comprehensive operational advice on issues such as the stockpiling of medicines and equipment, medical research and public health, in time for them to take robust action locally well before the UK leaves the EU.

In separate papers the government has issued advice on how no deal will affect the import and development of medicines, currently subject to EU regulation.

Broadly the UK will mirror European standards, accepting for example medicines that have been batch-tested in other European nations to try and ensure continuity of supply.

The government says it hopes that the EU will reciprocate to allow the continued flow of around 45 million packets of medicine exported from the UK every month, but there is no guarantee.

Mike Thompson, chief executive of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry, said no deal would not be in the interest of patients.

“By agreeing to recognise and use medicines and vaccines licensed and manufactured in the EU, the UK government has taken an important step to protect patients.

“We urge the EU Commission to do the same.

“We need to be clear that a ‘no deal’ scenario is not in the interest of patients.

“Both sides must rapidly agree the terms of the UK’s withdrawal and a future relationship based on cooperation to protect public health, control infectious diseases and manage medicine safety.”

Don’t hoard medicines for Brexit, health secretary says

The Guardian, Rajeev Syal, 23 August 2018

The health secretary has told patients and clinicians not to hoard medicines in the run-up to Brexit amid fears that the British public might panic about the supply of prescription drugs.

In a letter to all NHS organisations, GPs and pharmacies demanding a series of preparations for a no-deal Brexit, Matt Hancock threatened to investigate any clinicians who built up unnecessary stocks.

Hancock has, however, authorised pharmaceutical companies to stockpile a six-week inventory of medicines in case supplies are disrupted if Britain leaves the EU without a deal. There have also been warnings that NHS patients may face delays accessing certain treatments in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

In his letter, Hancock wrote: “Hospitals and community pharmacies throughout the UK do not need to take any steps to stockpile additional medicines beyond their business-as-usual stock levels. There is no need for clinicians to write longer NHS prescriptions. Local stockpiling is not necessary and any incidences involving the over-ordering of medicines will be investigated and followed up with the relevant chief or responsible pharmacist directly.

“Clinicians should advise patients that the government has plans in place to ensure a continuous supply of medicines to patients from the moment we leave the EU. Patients will not need and should not seek to store additional medicines at home.”

Hancock disclosed in the letter he had demanded separate arrangements for the air freight of medicines with short shelf lives, such as those used in radiotherapy, such as medical radioisotopes.

The Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), which regulates drugs in the UK, will take on the functions of the EU if an agreement is not reached by 29 March. Products will have to go through national assessment before they receive market authorisation to be sold in the UK, according to a technical paper on .

Guidance released on Thursday states that “unnecessary complexity” will be avoided by following existing processes.

Steve Bates, the chief executive of the UK BioIndustry Association, said the additional regulatory processes would diminish the UK’s attractiveness for businesses and “likely mean that NHS patients would get access to new therapies later than other countries in Europe”.

Most new medicines come to the market through a licensing route overseen by the European Medicines Agency (EMA). If a deal is not reached, the UK’s participation in the European regulatory network, including centralised routes, will cease, according to the guidance.

Responding to Hancock’s letter, the Labour MP Chuka Umunna told Sky News: “It is unbelievable that we are in a position where we have to stockpile medicines so close to leaving the EU.”

Media And Political Bulletin – 24 August 2018

From Factory to Pharmacy

As part of our mission to build awareness, understanding and appreciation of the vital importance of the healthcare distribution sector, we developed an infographic explaining the availability of medicines. It identifies the factors that can impact drug supply, as well as the measures that HDA members undertake day in, day out to help mitigate the risks of patients not receiving their medicines.

See the Infographic

Apply to become a Member

Membership of the HDA guarantees your organisation:

  • Access to leading policy and industry forums of debate and discussion
  • Invitations to a range of networking industry events organised through the year, including an Annual Conference and a Business Day
  • Representation on HDA working parties, including the Members’ Liaison Group
  • A daily Political and Media Bulletin and HDA Newsletters
  • Access to HDA policy documents and all sections of the HDA website
  • Branding and marketing opportunities
Apply Now

Already a Member?