‘No-Deal Brexit’ Risks Supply Of Medicines To Patients, Warns Healthcare Distribution Association

‘No-deal Brexit’ risks supply of medicines to patients, warns Healthcare Distribution Association

  •         Supply shortages of certain medicines a possibility
  •         Curtailed supply could see medicine prices rise for NHS
  •         Call to consider NHS ‘temporary powers’


London: 23 October 2018: The Healthcare Distribution Association (HDA UK) has warned that a ‘no-deal Brexit’ could lead to medicine shortages and price rises.  The HDA is lobbying for a Brexit deal that ensures the reciprocal recognition of existing EU medicines regulations, in order to guarantee that patients will not suffer the consequences of not being able to access their medicines.

Speaking ahead of an appearance in front of the Health and Social Care Select Committee’s ‘No-Deal Brexit’ inquiry, the HDA’s Executive Director, Martin Sawer, noted:

We very much welcome, and are a part of, the Government’s efforts to prepare for all Brexit scenarios, but HDA and its member companies are now concerned that the uncertainty over a deal with the EU, in the very short-time frame left, is not a good position to be in.

Nearly 50% of the medicines in a typical HDA member company’s warehouse will have been through an EU country before reaching the UK. If crossing borders is not made easy for medicines, then HDA is concerned about the impact on patients requiring critical treatments.

HDA is very supportive of the government’s plans to stockpile medicines, but in a ‘no deal’ scenario, it is the management of the medicines that are already in the UK, that will become crucial.  This is where, the HDA believes that the Government and the NHS should step in. The medicines supply chain is a very successful and responsive delivery mechanism, but a ‘no deal Brexit’ would be new territory altogether.

The NHS has achieved great reliability and savings from the medicines market; a ‘no deal Brexit’ could unleash unforeseen consequences, especially in the generics sector.  This could lead to:

  1.        Patients not being able to access the right medicine, in the right place at the right time
  2.       Pharmacists wasting valuable time trying to source a patient’s medicines
  3.        The NHS having to spend more on purchasing medicines


Martin Sawer went onto highlight:

The potential impact of a ‘no-deal Brexit’ will not just be felt from day one of the UK leaving the European Union, but in the run-up to the UK leaving, if it becomes clearer that a ‘no-deal Brexit’ is the most likely outcome.  Equally, it is unclear how long such effects will continue after Brexit as it will take time for the supply chain to address shortages by sourcing additional stock.

Appearing in front of the Select Committee, the HDA will call for strong and regular communication from the NHS and regulators to all members of the supply chain, including patients, to keep them abreast of supply issues.  Moreover, there should be a consideration of short term ‘temporary powers’ to manage supplies of certain medicines and control unhelpful market behaviours. Such powers could include the consideration of more stringent ‘obligations to supply UK patients’ regulations.

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About the Healthcare Distribution Association

The Healthcare Distribution Association (HDA UK) represents those businesses who supply medicines, medical devices and   healthcare services for patients, pharmacies, hospitals, doctors and the pharmaceutical industry. HDA UK members operate across the 4 nations of the United Kingdom enabling a safe, efficient and high-quality supply chain for the healthcare sector.  They are responsible for distributing over 92% of NHS medicines and provide wholesaling services including working capital, stock management and IT systems to their supply chain partners. The HDA and its members are at the forefront of the constantly evolving healthcare supply chain, which is seeing innovative practices and technologies make new services possible for manufacturers and to those who dispense medicines, reflecting the needs and choices of individual patients.

Contact Information

Will Browne –

Hannah Milne –

0207 031 0590

‘No-Deal Brexit’ Risks Supply Of Medicines To Patients, Warns Healthcare Distribution Association

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

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