One by one, drugmakers have disclosed plans to prepare for Brexit, which could leave British patients vulnerable to shipping delays and unable to access critical drugs. Novo Nordisk, the largest insulin supplier to the U.K., now says it’ll more than double its stockpile to prepare for the historic move.
Britain is set to leave the European Union in March 2019. By January, Novo Nordisk says it'll more than double its normal 7-week stockpile to 16 weeks' worth of insulin. The company supplies more than half of the U.K.’s insulin, according to The Independent. If no deal is established between the U.K. and the European Union, routine shipping and customs between countries could come under long delays.
Novo Nordisk UK Corporate Vice President Pinder Sahota said in a statement that the company’s “first commitment is to ensure that patients treated with our medicines remain unaffected in the event of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit.” The company is “working closely with trade organizations in the UK and the EU to ensure that the interests of our patients are at the forefront of negotiations.”
Additionally, Novo is working with authorities to “ensure continuity of supply, irrespective of the outcome of Brexit negotiations,” Sahota said.
Novo’s fellow insulin maker Sanofi has committed to stockpiling 14 weeks’ worth of drugs to prepare for Brexit fallout. The company also said it’d consider flying flu vaccines into the U.K. because of tight timelines required to deliver the products. If the parties could agree, Sanofi also said it would consider marking trucks to make a fast pass through customs.
Other top players in the pharma industry have been detailing their Brexit plans, as well. Pfizer recently said changes to its supply chain will cost $100 million to ensure supply. British drugmaker GSK has said its Brexit prep work will cost $100 million, while peer AstraZeneca has estimated the bill will be $40 million. Merck, for its part, plans a 6-month drug supply.
Last week, NHS England urged the entire industry to prepare. The agency ordered companies to report by Sept. 10 how they’ll build stockpiles. Officials want at least six weeks’ worth of drug supplies above normal.