United Kingdom stares at shortage of medicine supply in case of a no-deal Brexit

Published: Sep 28, 2019, 07:50 IST | Agencies | London

Suppliers say, as of Sept. 20, the country had six-week worth of stock of 72 per cent of medicines

PM Boris Johnson visits The Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow on Friday. Pic/AFP
PM Boris Johnson visits The Princess Alexandra Hospital in Harlow on Friday. Pic/AFP

London: Britain's government watchdog says there is still a "significant amount" of work to do to make sure the country has an adequate supply of licensed drugs in case of a no-deal Brexit.In a report issued on Friday, UK's National Audit Office said additional shipping capacity chartered by the UK for sending goods across the English Channel might not be operational until the end of November — one month after the October 31 deadline for Britain to leave the European Union.Of the over 12,300 medicines licensed in the UK, about 7,000 arrive from or via the EU, mostly across the Channel. Meg Hillier, who chairs a committee overseeing the audit office, called the findings "deeply concerning.

" Meg said she had seen "countless examples" of the UK government missing deadlines, but that this one was particularly striking. "If the government gets this wrong, it could have the gravest of consequences," she said.According to the UK government's "reasonable worst-case" scenario, the flow of goods could be cut by half on Day 1 of a no-deal Brexit and could take a year to recover. It said time was "extremely limited" if the shipping issues were to be resolved by the end of October. Steve Bates, UK' s Bioindustry Association CEO, said the government has given firms much less information about alternative routes in case a no-deal Brexit results in jammed ports.

The audit report also said there was "incomplete information" about the levels of medicine stockpiling but that levels were increasing daily. As of September 20, suppliers reported that 72 per cent of medicines had a six-week stockpile. Dr Richard Torbett of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry said more details were needed on how firms might access government-planned freight capacity if UK sees a no-deal departure from the EU.

'PM's remarks not polarising society'

A senior adviser to UK PM Boris Johnson has dismissed concerns that politicians' heated rhetoric over Brexit is polarising society, telling supporters that it isn't surprising that people are upset about the country's failure to leave the EU. Adviser Dominic Cummings told backers that the only way to calm tensions over Brexit is for British lawmakers to respect the 2016 referendum result and take the country out of the EU.

7,000
Varities of medicines that arrive from or via EU

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