According to the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), pharmaceutical companies should stockpile six weeks’ worth of goods “to help ensure the continuity of supply of medical goods into and out of the UK”.
In a letter to the industry Steve Oldfield, Chief Commercial Officer, acknowledges the impact of COVID-19 on the sector and the strain this has placed on supply chains. With no intention of a Brexit extension beyond 31 December, the government is aware that leaving without a deal may cause supply chain disruption.
The communication outlines that the focus should now be on mitigating any potential disruption to supply into the UK across all categories of medical supplies, including, medicines, medical devices and clinical consumables, clinical trials supplies, products of human origin (blood and transplant items), and vaccines and countermeasures.
The government is asking suppliers to put in place “flexible mitigation and readiness plans in preparation for new border and customs procedures” as well as advising that all scenarios must be planned for such as reduced traffics flow at short Channel crossings like Dover and Calais. With a significant percentage of medical supplies coming from or via the EU, the government says that a key priority must be to “maintain replenishment rates at necessary levels by securing capacity to reroute freight away from the short straits potential disruption points”. As such it is urging businesses to review current logistics with a view to avoiding these routes.
Acknowledging that global supply chains have been under huge amounts of strain due to COVID-19, the letter encourages “companies to make stockpiling a key part of contingency plans, and ask industry, where possible, to stockpile to a target level of 6 weeks’ total stock on UK soil”.