October 10, 2018 / 3:33 PM / 7 months ago

'Things will go wrong' if no Brexit deal, drug industry warns

LONDON, Oct 10 (Reuters) - The head of Britain’s pharmaceuticals industry warned on Wednesday that problems were inevitable if there was no agreement on the United Kingdom’s departure from the European Union, putting drug stocks and approvals at risk.

The highly regulated drugs sector is one of the most vulnerable to a no-deal Brexit because of uncertainty as to how medicines oversight would function.

Companies are having to prepare for the worst, but the complexity of the industry’s supply chains and lack of clarity over transfer of files for medicines undergoing regulatory review makes planning challenging.

“The scale of what we are trying to do means that some things will go wrong because we are trying to replan a whole industry in a very short space of time,” said Mike Thompson, chief executive of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry.

“I’m not really convinced that everybody has fully understood what we are setting ourselves up for,” he told a committee of lawmakers.

Thompson pointed to the example of one company currently manufacturing medicines in Britain which was trying to revalidate more than 15,000 supply lines.

The British government told companies in August to build an additional six weeks of medicine stockpiles to cope with potential disruption - but Thompson warned there could be serious difficulties if supply chain delays were greater than six weeks. (Reporting by Ben Hirschler and Kate Holton; Editing by Janet Lawrence)

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