Brexit: DHSC update on continuity of medicines supply

Brexit: DHSC update on continuity of medicines supply

October 10, 2019

Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock, has provided an update to Parliament on the Department’s contingency planning for the supply of medicines and medical products following a no-deal Brexit.

The full ministerial statement can be read here, but we have summarised the information provided below.

Improving trader readiness for new border arrangements: A support unit has been established to help suppliers of medical goods ensure they are prepared for the new customs procedures involved with importing products post-Brexit.

Building up buffer stocks: This remains the same as previously communicated (see the letter to suppliers from DHSC sent on 26th June 2019).

Procuring extra warehousing space for stockpiled medicines: Additional warehouse space has been secured, including ambient, refrigerated and controlled drug storage.

Securing freight capacity: Suppliers of medicines have been identified by as ‘category 1’ goods (i.e. they are essential for welfare) and so are now permitted to register to access the Government’s Freight Capacity Framework, which will provide resilience if the flow of these goods is disrupted for any reason. Also, as previously communicated, DHSC is procuring an express freight service to provide an extra level of protection to the medicines supply chain. Bids are currently being reviewed and the contract(s) will be awarded shortly.

Changing or clarifying regulatory requirements: Some regulations have been amended to ensure that medicines and medical devices can continue to be sold in the UK post-Brexit.

Strengthening the processes and resources used to deal with shortages: As well as introducing legislation for Serious Shortage Protocols (SSPs), DHSC will use a National Supply Disruption Response (NDSR) to monitor the medicine supply situation and take action as appropriate to resolve any issues that may occur.

Message to NHS and the public: DHSC is working with other Government departments and stakeholders across the health and social care system so that service providers, patients and members of the public do not have to take action themselves. Patients are urged to keep taking their medicines and ordering their repeat prescriptions as usual.

Mr Hancock also referred to a recent report from the National Audit Office (NAO) into DHSC’s preparations. The NAO concluded that, whilst a significant amount of work has been undertaken, there is still much to do before 31st October.

DHSC Chief Commercial Officer, Steve Oldfield, has also written to pharmaceutical companies, medical device manufacturers and the adult social care sector to outline the latest preparations.

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