AstraZeneca Brexit prep to cost £40M as it duplicates drug testing, boosts stockpiles

AstraZeneca is taking up multiple lines of defense to protect against supply disruptions from Brexit. (AstraZeneca)

As the date for Brexit fast approaches, drugmakers are bracing for impact, and AstraZeneca is one of them. The U.K.-based pharma has taken up three lines of defense to forestall potential supply disruptions.

First, the company is gearing up to duplicate testing for products that traditionally have only had to be tested once, either at their manufacturing sites in the U.K. or in Europe, a spokesperson told FiercePharma.

The company is also working with port authorities, customs and border officials in hopes of smoothly moving toward exports to the E.U., he said. Lastly, it's expanding stockpiles of some drugs set for shipping between the U.K. and Europe.

All told, the company expects preparations will cost about £40 million, AstraZeneca global media relations director Gonzalo Viña said.

The larger stockpiles are for drugs made in the U.K. destined for EU markets, and vice versa, Viña said. Together, the moves will help ensure against supply disruptions when the United Kingdom leaves the European Union in March 2019.

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Of course, AstraZeneca isn't the only pharma industry player preparing for the historic move. Merck & Co., for instance, reportedly plans to stockpile a six-month supply of drugs to hedge against shipping complications.

As part of the separation, the European Medicines Agency is relocating its headquarters to Amsterdam, from London, taking with it 900 jobs and an estimated economic impact of $1 billion.