‘Things will go wrong’ if no Brexit con­cord, phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals in­dus­try warns

Business World - - World Business -

LON­DON — The head of Bri­tain’s phar­ma­ceu­ti­cals in­dus­try warned on Wed­nes­day that prob­lems were in­evitable if there was no agree­ment on the United King­dom’s de­par­ture from the Euro­pean Union, putting drug stocks and ap­provals at risk.

The highly reg­u­lated drugs sec­tor is one of the most vul­ner­a­ble to a no-deal Brexit be­cause of un­cer­tainty as to how medicines over­sight would func­tion.

Com­pa­nies are hav­ing to pre­pare for the worst, but the com­plex­ity of the in­dus­try’s sup­ply chains and lack of clar­ity over trans­fer of files for medicines un­der­go­ing reg­u­la­tory re­view makes plan­ning chal­leng­ing.

“The scale of what we are try­ing to do means that some things will go wrong be­cause we are try­ing to re­plan a whole in­dus­try in a very short space of time,” said Mike Thompson, chief ex­ec­u­tive of the As­so­ci­a­tion of the Bri­tish Phar­ma­ceu­ti­cal In­dus­try.

“I’m not re­ally con­vinced that ev­ery­body has fully un­der­stood what we are set­ting our­selves up for,” he told a com­mit­tee of law­mak­ers.

Mr. Thompson pointed to the ex­am­ple of one com­pany cur­rently man­u­fac­tur­ing medicines in Bri­tain which was try­ing to reval­i­date more than 15,000 sup­ply lines.

He said the in­dus­try as a whole had al­ready spent heav­ily to pre­pare, but still had no idea what to ex­pect.

“We’ve been plan­ning for a worse case sce­nario in terms of the im­pact on us and there­fore com­pa­nies have al­ready spent, prob­a­bly col­lec­tively across the whole in­dus­try, hun­dreds of mil­lions of pounds,” he said.

The Bri­tish gov­ern­ment told com­pa­nies in Au­gust to build an ad­di­tional six weeks of medicine stock­piles to cope with po­ten­tial dis­rup­tion — but Mr. Thompson warned there could be se­ri­ous dif­fi­cul­ties if sup­ply chain de­lays were greater than six weeks.

Mr. Thompson was ap­pear­ing along­side ex­ec­u­tives from other in­dus­try or­ga­ni­za­tions rep­re­sent­ing small busi­nesses, food and hauliers, who set out the prob­lems they would face in the event of a no-deal Brexit, from de­lays at bor­ders to rot­ting food.

Richard Bur­nett, CEO of the Road Haulage As­so­ci­a­tion, said they had been lim­ited in their abil­ity to pre­pare be­cause they had to sign a nondis­clo­sure agree­ment (NDA) with the gov­ern­ment to dis­cuss what a new cus­toms sys­tem could look like.

“We’ve had to sign NDAs ... to know and un­der­stand what that looks like,” he said. “At this stage all I would say is that cus­toms process from what we can see won’t work and in­dus­try is ef­fec­tively telling (the gov­ern­ment) that it won’t work and they’re not lis­ten­ing.” —

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