- French pharmaceutical manufacturers are concerned about disruption in their supply chains, calling on negotiators this month to ensure that medicines will be able to flow freely post-Brexit, according to Reuters.
- Concerned that supplies and medicines may have trouble crossing borders soon, some drug companies are stockpiling months worth of products in the U.K.
- Philippe Lamoureux of LEEM, France's pharmaceutical lobby, told Reuters that negotiators are not prioritizing pharmaceuticals or healthcare in their conversations. The U.K. is France's third largest customer for pharmaceuticals, he said.
It is common for drugs to be produced in Britain, packaged in Europe and sold back to Britain, creating serious supply chain risks post-Brexit. More than 2,600 drugs are made, at least partially, in Britain, and 37 million flow to Britain from the European Union, according to Reuters.
Back in November, the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations (EFPIA) issued a similar warning that a "hard" Brexit — meaning that the parties are not able to reach an agreement and regulatory, trade and commercial ties between the regions are severed without any structure to govern the new reality — could interrupt the supply of critical products. Since then, a few things have been worked out, but the overall climate is still one of uncertainty.
In August, the U.K. Department for Exiting the European Union issued guidelines around testing and marketing of drugs, but supply chain issues have not yet been broached. Lamoureux told Reuters the German government has asked its pharmaceutical companies to analyze their supply chains for Brexit risk, and many French companies are doing so on their own volition.
The goal of negotiators is to have a deal hammered out by October, so that both EU and U.K. parliaments can vote on it early in the new year, leaving everything settled for the "ready or not" deadline of March 29, 2019.
But drugmakers have started working on contingencies already. Major French drugmakers Sanofi, AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline, Roche and Novartis have all said they are stockpiling drugs in the U.K. to maintain sales, according to Reuters. Mike Thompson, chief executive of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry told Bloomberg that preparations are pulling funds from crucial research and Pfizer said that Brexit would cost the company $100 million.
A Reuters poll conducted at the end of August puts the chance of a hard Brexit at 25%.