U.K. Health Secretary Matt Hancock said Friday the government is drawing up plans to use airplanes and fast-track trucks at the border to ensure the supply of medicines is not interrupted in the event of a no-deal Brexit.
“We are working on ensuring that we have aviation capacity,” Hancock told the BBC on Friday. “If there is a serious disruption at the border we will have prioritization and prioritization will include medicines and medical devices.”
As part of its preparations for a no-deal Brexit, the government is also looking into fast-tracking trucks carrying medicines through Dover if “there’s a serious disruption at the border” and increasing refrigeration units for medicines that can be stockpiled, the health minister said.
Hancock also said pharmacies in the U.K. may be allowed to issue small quantities of medicines without the approval of general practitioners if there are “serious shortages” as a result of a no-deal Brexit.
The Times reported Friday that ministers would be able to tell pharmacists to alter medications and dispense a “reduced quantity” of medicines without contacting GPs first.
National Health Service providers, pharmaceutical companies and patient groups warned last month that the government’s plans for maintaining drug supplies in the event of no deal were so lacking that the warning level should be raised to “red.”
“If there’s a shortage of an individual drug and pharmacists can make clinical and professional judgments, then that will be a step forward,” Hancock said.
The U.K. government is currently consulting on the idea and will ensure that it has contingency plans in place before the country leaves the European Union in March 2019, Hancock said.
“In the health department, we deal with contingencies all the time and this is an extension of that,” Hancock said.
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