Drug giant Sanofi has started stockpiling medicine in preparation for a no-deal Brexit.
The French firm took the decision after new health secretary Matt Hancock warned about the impact of no deal on health services and foreign secretary Jeremy Hunt said Britain and the EU could end up ‘accidentally’ deadlocked.
Hugo Fry, managing director of Sanofi UK, said: ‘The uncertainty in the Brexit negotiations means that Sanofi has been planning for a ‘no deal’ scenario.
‘Patient safety is our main priority and we have made arrangements for additional warehouse capacity in order to stockpile our products, where global supply allows, in the UK and increase UK-based resource to prepare for any changes to customs or regulatory processes.
‘This means that Sanofi will hold 14 weeks stock in the UK as from April 2019, which is an increase of our current in country holding of approximately 10 weeks stock.’
The plans were being instigated to ensure that ‘people in the UK can access the treatments they need after the UK leaves the European Union’, he added.
The plans have been shared with the NHS and the Department of Health, he added.
The news came as the European Medicines Agency announced it would be scaling back its operations as it expects significant staff losses ahead of Brexit.
The Agency said that it is to ‘further temporarily scale back and suspend activities’ in order to maintain its ‘essential public and animal health activities’.
The EMA said it was expecting ‘significant staff loss’ as it prepares to move its headquarters from London to Amsterdam in March next year.
The organisation was expecting staff losses in the region of 19% but this has increased to around 30%, it said.
Scaling back some operations will mean the organisation can ‘safeguard core activities related to the evaluation and supervision of medicines’, it said in a statement.
‘The temporary cuts in activities are required because it has also become clear that the Agency will lose more staff than initially anticipated,’ it continued.
Activities which will be temporarily impacted include: some of its international collaboration work and some development and revision of guidelines.