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Ministers accused of ‘putting Brexit ideology ahead of lives’ after asking firms to stockpile drugs for no-deal

Drugs firms were sent a letter by the Department of Health and Social Care telling them to stockpile ahead of the end of the Brexit transition period (PA)

2 min read

Ministers are being accused of putting “Brexit ideology ahead of people's lives” after asking drugs firms to begin stockpiling medicines for a potential no-deal Brexit.

Lib Dem leadership hopeful Layla Moran is calling on the Government to “carry out an urgent impact assessment” of how any disruption at the end of the transition period with the EU will affect the country's ability to cope with a second wave of coronavirus this winter.

It comes after pharmaceutical companies were sent a letter by the Department of Health and Social Care telling them that boosting their reserves is a priority.

"We recognise that global supply chains are under significant pressure, exacerbated by recent events with Covid-19," it reads.

"However, we encourage companies to make stockpiling a key part of contingency plans, and ask industry, where possible, to stockpile to a target level of six weeks' total stock on UK soil."

There have been concerns raised the pandemic has drawn down some medical stocks, and with the transition period ending on December 31 there could be further disruption to trade and supply chains at the same time as a potential second wave of the virus and a winter flu crisis.

The most recent talks between the UK and the EU ended with little movement towards a comprehensive agreement, with Brussels' chief negotiator Michel Barnier saying the prospects of a deal are "at this point unlikely".

The president of the Royal Pharmaceutical Society, Sandra Gidley, said: "I'm concerned to see the prospect of a no-deal Brexit return once again, amid one of the most challenging times in the history of the NHS.

"It's vital the UK and EU agree a deal on medicines regulation as soon as possible, to support our world-leading life sciences sector and ensure patients can get the medicines they need."

And the British Medical Association warned a stockpile is "at best a short-term solution”.

Ms Moran said it was “chilling” to hear the risks facing shortages of vital medical supplies due to a no deal Brexit. 

"The government must not put its Brexit ideology ahead of people's lives,” she added.

"Ministers should publish this letter and carry out an urgent impact assessment of how No Deal would affect the country's ability to cope with a second wave. The public and businesses cannot be kept in the dark any longer.

"The Liberal Democrats will not give up the fight to stop a no deal Brexit so we can focus on tackling coronavirus and rebuilding the economy.”

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