Theresa May's Insulin Supplies Look Safe in a No-Deal Brexit

(Bloomberg) -- Theresa May has a direct interest in ensuring drugs can cross the border from the European Union even in the event of a no-deal Brexit: As a type 1 diabetic, she’s dependent on insulin imported from the continent.

In an LBC radio phone-in show on Friday, the U.K. prime minister was asked by a member of the public for reassurance that access to medicines will be guaranteed in the future. “How long will sick people have to be worrying whether they’re going to be getting their medicines?,” the questioner asked.

“This is an issue that actually I feel personally,” May said. “As it happens my insulin is produced by a company elsewhere in the European Union. ”

Pressed further, she said it comes from Denmark. That almost certainly means her supplier is Danish drugmaker Novo Nordisk A/S, the world’s biggest maker of insulin.

And if so, there’s a sliver of good news for the beleaguered prime minister amid cabinet resignations and calls for her to be deposed: Novo Nordisk Chief Executive Officer Lars Fruergaard Jorgensen told reporters earlier this month that he’s more than doubling U.K. inventories to ensure it can maintain a steady supply of medicines to patients after Brexit. The company has been getting ready for a potentially “tough situation” when it comes to moving products across the border, he said.

The pharma company’s preparations have included significantly boosting stockpiles of insulin to about 16 weeks -- from seven weeks typically -- as it braces for a no-deal scenario, the company said in an emailed response to questions on Friday.

May said she has to measure her blood-sugar level during the day and regulate it with insulin. “If you’re stressed, if there’s a lot of adrenaline it will tend to go up.”

May isn’t short of things to stress her out. Seven members of her government quit on Thursday, prominent Brexiteers in her own Conservative Party are calling for her to go, and lawmakers from all parties are threatening to vote down her Brexit plans. At least Novo Nordisk’s stockpiling mean the U.K. insulin supply looks safe.

©2018 Bloomberg L.P.