Government facing £2bn bill for no-deal Brexit drugs stockpile, claim pro-EU group

Posted On: 
29th August 2018

A government plan to stockpile six weeks’ worth of medicines in case of a no-deal Brexit could cost taxpayers up to £2bn, it has been claimed.

Health Secretary Matt Hancock
PA Images

Health Secretary Matt Hancock wrote to GPs and pharmacists last week assuring them the Government would guarantee supplies in case imports from the EU are hit by a sudden departure from the bloc.

According to health think tank the King’s Fund earlier this year, the total drugs bill for the NHS in 2016/17 was £17.4bn.

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Anti-Brexit campaign group Best for Britain said a similar cost over a six-week period would come to £2bn.

Labour ex-frontbencher Owen Smith, speaking on behalf of the campaign, said: “Every day it seems as though there is another hidden cost being revealed.”

He added: “I don’t remember anyone warning that Brexit would mean we’d have to stockpile drugs or that this would cost the NHS and taxpayers up to £2bn.

“Maybe they should have slapped that on the side of the bus.”

A spokesman for the Department of Health said the Government was currently sounding out suppliers to “gauge how prepared the industry is before we decide the next steps”.

He added: “We have put in place a dedicated team to support suppliers in making arrangements for stockpiling and we will work with companies to develop plans to minimise any additional costs.”