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