Mitigating the risk of medicine shortages in the period around Brexit

 In Medicines Management Processes, Pharmacy Information


The Department of Health and Social Care published guidance in August 2018 about contingency plans for medicine supplies in the event of a ‘no-deal’ Brexit, and full details are available here.

In summary, the government has requested that:

  • Drug manufacturers have an additional six weeks of stock on top of their normal stock levels
  • Hospitals and pharmacies should not stockpile medicines

Ashtons’ response to the government’s Brexit plans

In line with government policy, Ashtons will not be stockpiling medicines, as this will increase the risk of shortages, but we will be working diligently to maintain stocks at our usual optimum levels.

There is a possibility that some medicines may become in short supply at around the time of Brexit, which is scheduled to take effect in March 2019. So we recommend that all hospitals, hospices and clinics ensure that they have sufficient stocks of medicines at this crucial time.

Recommendations for hospitals, hospices and clinics in preparation for Brexit

In the build-up to Brexit, all healthcare providers should identify the medicines required for your patients.

Particular attention should be focussed on critical medicines – insulin, for instance, which is essential for diabetic patients, or clozapine for patients with psychotic illness.

Sufficient stock should be maintained at the local site level by re-ordering in plenty of time, and not waiting until your stocks have become depleted.

Ashtons provides this advice annually in the run-up to Christmas and New Year, and it helps to ensure that patients do not run out of their medicines during the Bank Holiday periods.

For further advice about contingency planning in case of medicine shortages as a result of Brexit, please discuss with your visiting pharmacist or contact the Ashtons customer service team on 0345 222 3550 or at



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