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AstraZeneca increases drug stockpile in preparation for no-deal Brexit

Published on 18/07/18 at 11:11am

The Anglo-Swedish drug giant AstraZeneca is set to increase its stockpile of drugs in both the United Kingdom and the European Union in preparation for a hard, no-deal Brexit.

The Vice President of AstraZeneca’s Global External Manufacturing, Juliette White, told BBC’s Newsnight that:  “Ultimately – and as a safety net – we will increase the amount of finished medicines available to pharmacies and hospitals in those countries [referring to both the UK and those countries inside the EU]. We always have an additional amount of medicines available. We are increasing that by about 20%.”

White stated that the multinational pharmaceutical firm had been preparing for a no-deal Brexit since 2016. Pascal Soirot, the company’s CEO, called for clarity in regards to Brexit last year, saying that: “What is starting to worry me, I must say, is the potential for the one thing I didn’t think would happen, which is a hard Brexit. If there is no extension we will be left in limbo because the UK will come out of Europe and we will have no trade agreements.”

AstraZeneca have already spent £40 million in preparation for a no-deal Brexit. The company, who currently employ 7,000 people in the UK, has a team of 30 who are tasked with preparing for Britain’s exit from the European Union.

A no-deal arrangement would halt the free flow of drugs between Britain and the EU. While 45 million packs of medicine are imported into Europe from the UK, 37 million packs are transported in the other direction. Although EU regulations currently allow for the movement of drugs between countries in the EU, in the case of a no-deal Brexit, drugs would have to be tested and registered in both the UK and EU in order to be legally valid in both regions.

The statement comes as the EMA stated last week that it had identified gaps in the pharma industry’s preparedness for Brexit.

Louis Goss

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