The Department of Health and Social Care has published a letter setting out the Government’s plan and requests of industry and the wider supply chain ahead of the end of the Brexit transition period to help ensure the continuity of supply of medical goods into and out of the UK.
The letter asks suppliers to put in place flexible mitigation and readiness plans in preparation for new border and customs procedures. It covers:
Re-routing away from the short straits
Supporting ‘trader readiness’ for the new customs and border arrangements
Buffer stocks of medical supplies where possible
Regulatory flexibility, and
Shortage management response
In response, David Watson, ABPI’s Interim Executive Director for Commercial Policy said: “Pharmaceutical companies have worked around the clock to make sure medicine supply chains have held up during this pandemic. With this pressure likely to continue over the coming months, it is imperative that the Government works closely with them to provide the support they need to plan for the end of the transition period.
“While today’s letter means that preparations can proceed, detailed guidance is still urgently required from Government on issues like freight capacity, ferry routes and the Northern Ireland Protocol.
“Coronavirus has only strengthened our belief that the best possible outcome is for both sides to reach a deal that includes an MRA to protect patients and public health.”
The pharmaceutical industry has called for negotiators to seek a Mutual Recognition Agreement – which would see both sides accept each other’s drug safety testing and inspections before export – alongside any agreement in order to avoid unnecessary duplication, disruption to supply chains or delays to patient access to medicine.
The ABPI has launched a public consultation on the proposed 2021 ABPI Code of Practice for the pharmaceutical industry.