• Health secretary announces plans for “stockpiling drugs and medical devices”
  • Some drugs would need to be “flown in” if ports are clogged
  • Commercial discussions with the pharma industry are underway
  • HSJ understands a government announcement on the issue is due next week

The government is planning to stockpile drugs for a no-deal Brexit, the health secretary has announced.

Speaking today at the parliamentary health and social care committee, Matt Hancock said the government is “working up options with industry for stockpiling drugs and medical devices and supplies…obviously there will be a cost for this”.

He told the committee that “the stockpiling will be by industry but we are prepared to step in jointly.”  He also said that medicines with a short shelf life “will need to be flown in” if ports prove difficult to access.

He added the government is “assessing” how many months of medicine it would need to stockpile. 

HSJ understands confidential commercial discussions with companies are underway and that the government is due to make a further announcement on the issue next week.

Mr Hancock said: “Since I have arrived in the department I have asked for this work [on no deal planning] to accelerate. I have met with industry leaders to discuss it. We’re working right across government to ensure…that people’s health will be safeguarded in the event of a no-deal Brexit.”

One pharmaceutical source told HSJ that the cost of stockpiling medicines could not be borne by small or medium sized pharma companies so government support would be needed.