Regardless of the outcome of the negotiations, we knew that new customs and border arrangements will be in place on 1 January 2021 and that the government’s reasonable worst-case scenario indicates that this could lead to disruption in cross-border trade.
Pharmaceutical companies and the government have been working together to put in place contingency plans to mitigate any potential disruption to the supply of medicines at the end of the transition period.
“Since day one we have urged both sides to work to secure a deal, including an agreement on medicines, which is in the best long-term interests of patients across Europe.”
“Pharmaceutical companies have been doing everything in their power to prepare for new border arrangements amidst this global pandemic. That includes getting to grips with new customs paperwork, planning alternative supply routes away from forecast disruptions and increasing stocks where possible.”
Richard Torbett, Chief Executive of the ABPI
Pharmaceutical companies are doing everything in their power to put in place mitigation measures and contingency plans, working with the government on their multi-layered approach for the end of the transition period.
The government has described its multi-layered approach for the end of the year. Pharmaceutical companies will be making their own preparations and as suggested using a mix of these measures depending on their specific product portfolio/range. They include:
Each month 45 million packs of medicines move from the UK to the EU and 37 million go back the other way. The majority of these travel between the short straits at Dover-Calais.
The government has contracts in place with Brittany Ferries, DFDS, P&O and Stena for pharmaceutical companies to re-route medicines supplies away from the short straits to 9 routes serving 8 ports: Felixstowe, Harwich, Hull, Newhaven, Poole, Portsmouth, Teesport and Tilbury. Read more.
In addition, the Department of Health and Social Care has an express freight service arrangement with 3 specialist logistics providers to support any urgent movement of medicines and medical products to care, providers and patients, if other measures experience difficulties.
The pharmaceutical industry has worked as well as they can to prepare for new customs and border arrangements and expected documentation ahead of the end of the transition period. Read more here.
The government has asked companies, where possible, to stockpile to a target level of 6 weeks’ total stock on UK soil. Read more here.
The DHSC’s Medicine Supply Team has well-established procedures to deal with actual or potential medicine shortages and works closely with the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA), the pharmaceutical industry, NHS England and NHS Improvement, the devolved administrations and others operating in the supply chain to help prevent shortages and minimise the risks to patients.
The National Supply Disruption Response (NSDR) is the service for suppliers of all categories experiencing supply and logistics challenges. The NSDR will be stood up for the end of the transition period as a contingency measure.
Companies will have decided their own individual contingency plans, and the DHSC has regularly sought corporate and specific product assurances as to overall preparedness for the end of the transition period.
For more information about how the pharmaceutical industry manages medicines shortages click here.
The UK Government published a Command Paper on the 10 December which confirmed that medicines already on the market in the EU or the UK are able to continue to circulate to NI from 1 January 2021.
It also confirmed that the Ireland/Northern Ireland Specialised Committee has agreed a pragmatic phased process of up to 12 months, for implementing medicines regulations applicable in Northern Ireland.
This will provide additional time for businesses to prepare in relation to batch testing, importation, and Falsified Medicines Directive requirements whilst the UK Government affirmed its support for the delivery of additional warehousing capacity in Northern Ireland, if appropriate. Read more
Like all other medicines and vaccines, companies supplying new COVID-19 vaccines will be putting in place contingency measures to mitigate any forecast disruption from the end of the transition period.