The Government’s plan to stockpile six weeks worth of medicines in the event of a no-deal Brexit might ‘not be enough’, the National Pharmacy Association (NPA) has said.
The NPA’s public affairs manager Gareth Jones told The Pharmacist on Friday (31 August) that the Department of Health and Social Care’s (DHSC) guidance on stockpiling medicines ‘might not be enough [and] we might need to do more’.
His comments come as the DHSC asked pharmaceutical companies last month to hold a minimum of six weeks extra of supply of medicines ‘over and above their business as usual operational buffer stocks’ in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
The DHSC told The Pharmacist that it will work with the stakeholder companies, including those in the supply chain, to ensure stockpiles of drugs in the UK are appropriate to cope with delays that may arise at the border in a post-Brexit UK.
‘More needs to be done’
Mr Jones said that the Government’s plan to hold medicines will help with supply chain issues ‘if there are problems at borders and with getting a freight coming into the country’. But he stressed that ‘more needs to be done to ensure that the risk of any shortages is completely reduced’.
He added: ‘We do have to think about the concerns related to human behaviour. If people start getting concerned about medicine shortages because of a hard Brexit, we might see significant pressures on pharmacy and demands for prescriptions from GPs as well.
‘We may need more than simply a six-week stockpile [plan] to deal with that.
‘It’s difficult obviously to know what will happen and how things will progress but we have certainly identified risks and we feel that there’s probably more that needs to be done to ensure that the risk of any shortages is completely reduced.’
‘Significant pressures on pharmacy’
Last month, the DHSC told community pharmacies not to stockpile drugs if the UK failed to secure a deal when leaving the EU.
Mr Jones stressed the importance of the DHSC working with community pharmacy and GPs, ‘who will be on the front line if people start getting concerns about medicines shortages’.
He continued: ‘The opportunity to stockpile in community pharmacy is very limited – that’s recognised by the DHSC.
‘The whole supply chain is highly efficient and works just in time, so do they have the additional storage capacity to be able to store additional medicines? It’s a question for the wholesalers and the manufacturers.’