The Brexit transition period is set to end on 31 December 2020. This means that from 1 January 2021, the government expects new checks and administration procedures at the border between the UK and France to create immediate disruption in the supply of drugs and other medical products for several months.
To reduce the impact of this, the government is again asking drug suppliers to build up a six week stockpile and is building up its own stockpile of devices and consumables. Prior to previous potential “no deal” dates, stockpiling on this scale did seem to take place for drugs, but not for devices. The government is also making allowances delays in key customs processes and arranging new routes into the UK, including rapid air freight for urgent supplies.
In recent years there has been a generic shortage in drug supplies, however, it is likely that the additional administration involved will cause a permanent increase in the cost of many drugs. The NHS may face paying more for drugs and other medical supplies and some companies may no longer believe it is feasible to bring certain products to the UK Market.
In addition to facing a shortage in supplies, another impact of the Brexit transition period ending and the UK leaving the single market is that we will no longer submit or receive safety alerts and data from the EU systems for drugs or devices. Inevitably, this means that we will be less well informed about emerging or potential issues with drugs and devices on the market. The UK has requested to continue cooperation with the EU in using this system, however the fate of this request is yet to be determined.