The UK government is struggling to rebuild stockpiles of drugs eroded by the COVID-19 pandemic amid concerns that a "no-deal" Brexit will jeopardise medicine supplies just as a second coronavirus wave hits the country, reported The Financial Times.
Health secretary Matt Hancock has accepted the need to finalise a formal plan to rebuild a six-week stockpile of drugs, but senior Whitehall officials said that the impact of COVID-19 on supply chains and stockpiles was causing serious worry.
A spokesperson said the government was in regular contact with industry and partners to ensure supplies in "all scenarios" in the months ahead as it continues negotiations with the EU.
"Any responsible government has a duty to prepare for all scenarios and robust contingency planning continues in line with our work to avoid a second peak of coronavirus infections," the spokesperson added.
Still, the combination of depleted stockpiles during COVID-19, disruptions to international production of generic drugs in India and China, and the risks of a second wave interrupting global supplies this year have raised "huge concern" in the top levels of the health department, the Whitehall official said.
"Industry is saying that all last autumn's stock has run down during COVID-19 and the department now thinks it looks doubtful stockpiling can be industry-led, as per last time, so the government is looking at its own options too," the official added.