Novartis stockpiles medicines ahead of Brexit

29 January 2019

Novartis has announced the execution of contingency plans, which includes the stockpiling of medicines that it provides in the UK, to minimise disruption to patients in the event of a no-deal Brexit. Currently the Switzerland-based pharmaceutical company currently provides 120 million packs to the UK from Europe each year.

“Following parliament’s vote, the risk of the UK exiting the EU without a deal is increased and this will be hugely impactful for patients, particularly around the supply and safety of medicines,” Novartis said in a statement. “Divergence from the close regulatory and legal cooperation that exists today between the UK and the EU has far-reaching implications for the way the life sciences sector operates and its ability to develop and deliver medicines for UK patients.”

The pharmaceutical industry has already called for the stepping up of preparations to avoid any delays along the supply chain, following parliament’s rejection of Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit withdrawal agreement earlier in January. Meanwhile, the NHS provided pharmacists with contingency plans whereby they will be able to supply medicines to patients if necessary.

Novartis also highlighted in their statement that the complexity of the supply chain requires the government to produce a comprehensive continuity plan. In particular, Novartis requested greater clarity over customs arrangements, both to and from Europe to reduce disruption at the borders.

According to Reuters, Roche and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) are also building up their inventories to prevent potential shortages. GSK is also working on packaging, importation licences and warehousing to protect its supply chains. The Danish pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk has also announced its no-deal Brexit contingency plans. It will double its normal UK stock from the end of January and schedule monthly airfreight slots between April and July this year to help minimise the potential negative impact of Brexit. With the clock ticking, it is important for pharmaceutical companies to do all they can to prepare for all scenarios, including a no-deal Brexit.



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