Keeping up medical supplies for a ‘no deal’ Brexit could cost £2bn

30 Aug 18

The health secretary’s plan to maintain the supply of medicine in the event of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit could cost Britain £2bn, a campaign group has warned.

Health secretary Matt Hancock wrote a letter to health care providers last week, saying in the “unlikely” event that Britain leaves the EU without a deal, the government will ensure the UK has an additional six weeks supply of medicines.

The Best for Britain campaign group based its calculations on data collected by the King’s Fund think-tank, which found that the total drugs bill for the NHS in 2016-17 was £17.4bn

Owen Smith, former shadow Northern Ireland secretary and Best for Britain supporter, said: “I don’t remember anyone warning that Brexit would mean we’d have to stockpile drugs or this would cost the NHS an taxpayers up to £2bn.

“Every day it seems as though there is a another hidden cost being revealed.”

In his letter, Hancock said that it would be down to pharmaceutical companies to ensure they have an additional six weeks supply of medicines on top of normal stock levels.

Hancock insisted that local stockpiling of medicines before the UK leaves the EU next March is not necessary, and patients should not seek to store additional medicines at home.

The total cost of NHS medicine spending in England stood at £13bn in 2010-11, according to the King’s Fund - an average growth of around 5% per year.

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