France and Germany plan for hard Brexit
Not only the pharmaceutical industry, but also EU member states are drawing up contingency plans for a no-deal Brexit. France and Germany are working as a team. While Paris looks at residency issues, Berlin is examining medical supply chains to and from the UK to prevent shortages of critical medications.
While the EU hopes an amicable and practicable deal can be reached, French Prime Minister Édouard Philippe said his country will be ready in the event of a cliff-edge rupture. Reports say French President Emmanuel Macron wants a Brexit agreement to be in place by the end of 2018 and is planning to meet German Chancellor Angela Merkel shortly to discuss all issues, including pharmaceuticals.
The drugs sector’s regulatory body, European Medicines Agency (EMA), said at the end of August it has set up a task force in cooperation with national regulators to minimize supply disruptions over the next two years. “The withdrawal of the UK from the EU is likely to affect the availability of medicines in the EU,” the agency predicted.
Many see the heavily regulated pharmaceutical sector as one of the most vulnerable, especially as it is still unclear how medicine oversight would function in an unregulated separation in March 2019.
Against this backdrop, Germany’s health ministry has asked drugmakers to examine their supply chains for any vulnerability that could cause shortages of essential drugs in the event of a hard Brexit. Its Federal Institute for Drugs and Medical Devices (BfArM) has ordered industry associations to gather information on the impact of a no-deal Brexit.
In the UK, England’s National Health Service (NHS) has given drugmakers and manufacturers of medical devices until Sept. 10 to advise on how they will stockpile their products made in Europe and sold to the British healthcare sector. Major pharmaceutical companies across Europe have announced that they are planning for a “worst-case scenario.”
Despite all the efforts so far, the World Trade Organization has warned that the UK risks trade disruption in the event of a no-deal Brexit because it is “very unlikely” to have agreed tariffs and quotas with the other WTO members in time.