U.K. Commits $110 Million to Ensure Post-Brexit Drug Supply

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(Bloomberg) -- The U.K. government signed freight contracts worth as much as 87 million pounds ($110 million) to help ensure supplies of vital medicines amid concerns about post-Brexit disruptions.

The contracts will be fulfilled by Brittany Ferries, DFDS A/S, P&O and Stena Line Travel Group AB, and will be provided across 13 routes, according to an emailed statement from the Department for Transport. Last month, the U.K. shortlisted several companies that could provide competition to bring “critical goods” into the U.K. after Oct. 31.

Concerns about the supply of vital drugs amid a disorderly exit from the European Union have been growing, even as Prime Minister Boris Johnson and EU negotiators hint that a deal can be done before the Oct. 31 Brexit deadline. Pharmaceutical companies have been stockpiling supplies and nailing down plans to make sure that perishable medications like influenza vaccine are in place.

If a deal is struck before the deadline, the government will terminate the contracts and pay about 12 million pounds in cancellation fees, a spokesman said. After the March deadline extension, officials canceled contracts for additional post-Brexit shipping at a cost of around 50 million pounds.

The U.K. is preparing for all Brexit outcomes “like any sensible government,” British Transport Minister Grant Shapps said in the email.

Earlier this year, public-health leaders warned the government that the U.K. crashing out of the European Union without a deal would be hazardous to patients’ health. Potential repercussions from a failure to make a deal include staffing shortages and regulatory roadblocks as well as supply issues and the long-term problem of the U.K. missing out on pan-European research and public-health initiatives, the letter said.

The U.K. has already committed to spending 30 million pounds to prepare the country’s ports for increased pressure after Brexit.

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.

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