Novartis has announced the execution of contingency plans, including the stockpiling of medicines that it provides in the UK, to ensure there is no disruption of supply to patients in the event that the UK leaves the EU without a deal.

Amid increasing concerns over a no-deal Brexit, the Switzerland-based pharmaceutical giant said that measures are being taken to maintain the provision of the 120 million packs it imports to the UK from Europe each year.

The company added that patient access to Novartis, Sandoz and Alcon drugs and products will be its priority.

A statement from Novartis read: “Following Parliament’s vote, the risk of the UK exiting the EU without a deal is increased and this will be hugely impactful for patients, particularly around the supply and safety of medicines.

“Divergence from the close regulatory and legal cooperation that exists today between the UK and the EU has far-reaching implications for the way the life sciences sector operates and its ability to develop and deliver medicines for UK patients.”

The pharmaceutical industry has already called for preparations to avoid any hindrance to supply chain, following parliament’s rejection of Prime Minister Theresa May’s Brexit withdrawal agreement earlier in January.

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“Following Parliament’s vote, the risk of the UK exiting the EU without a deal is increased and this will be hugely impactful for patients, particularly around the supply and safety of medicines.”

Meanwhile, the UK National Health Service (NHS) provided pharmacists with contingency plans to ensure there is no disruption to medicines supply in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

Novartis added that the complexity of the supply chain requires the government to come with a comprehensive continuity plan.

The company said: “This includes clarity over customs arrangements, both to and from Europe, and to minimise disruption at our borders.”

Furthermore, Novartis urged NHS trusts and pharmacists to follow the government’s advice and refrain from stockpiling medicines in order to manage the supply centrally and better address shortage risk.

According to Reuters, Roche and GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) are also building up their inventories to tackle any shortages.

The news agency noted that GSK is additionally working on packaging, importation licences and warehousing to protect its supply chains.

Additional reporting by Allie Nawrat: 

According to Pharma Times, Danish pharmaceutical company Novo Nordisk has also announced no-deal Brexit contingency plans. It will double its normal UK stock from the end of January, as well as schedule monthly airfreight slots between April and July this year to ensure supply isn’t affected by Brexit.

Novo Nordisk corporate vice-president Pinder Sahota told Sky News: “Stockpiling is one of the solutions but it is not the only solution. The replenishment of the stock post-Brexit is the next phase, and there are certain factors beyond our control here.

“The delays are unknown, which is why we have built the stocks, why we have booked air freight, and we will be looking to other ports as well in addition to Dover.”