The UK government has stepped up its plans for a 'no-deal' Brexit scenario in the key area of ensuring medicines supplies. 

This has been a major area of concern for the pharma and life sciences industry, patients and the country - would medicines be able to reach patients on time in the event of disruption with trade between the UK and EU in the event of a no deal? This is a huge issue in practice, given that 37 million medicine packs come from the EU to the UK each month, with 45 million moving the other way.

How Will the UK Get Medicines?

The government has for some time been prioritising this. Now it is taking further firm action to try to safeguard the supply of medicines. It is looking to contract with a freight contractor which will have the capability to deliver medicines into the UK within hours.

The Department of Health and Social Care has been going through a formal procurement process for bidders to guarantee that they will be able to provide an 'express freight service'. The service will need to deliver small parcels of medicines or medical products on a 24-hour basis, with additional provision to move larger pallet quantities on a two- to four-day basis, according to the requirements.

The contract will last for one year and the value is expected to be approximately £25 million for the supplier.


It is pleasing to see the government step up its preparations for a no-deal scenario, to try to ensure that patient health is a priority. However, for the pharma industry, a managed Brexit (or even no Brexit at all) is still the desire.

Through PING (Pharmaceutical Industry Network Group), VWV held a sell-out Conference in association with EMIG, on 3 April 2019, on how Brexit has affected the pharma supply chain. We heard about regulatory, research, immigration and trade issues; as well as an interesting and uplifting perspective from a European-based industry speaker. Press coverage of the event can be found here: PharmaTimes and Pharmafield.