Sanofi plans to stockpile products in British warehouses and move some operations to Europe as the French pharmaceuticals group prepares for the prospect of a “no-deal” Brexit next year.
Hugo Fry, managing director of Sanofi’s UK operation, said the group had started to make arrangements for additional warehouse capacity to store stocks of its products and “increase UK-based resource to prepare for any changes to customs or regulatory processes”.
"Sanofi is confident that its contingency plans will ensure that people in the UK can access the treatments they need after the UK leaves the European Union, " Mr Fry said.
Sanofi said that it would hold 14 weeks of stock in the UK from April 2019, an increase from the 10 weeks of stock currently held, based on its assumptions of potential delays following a no-deal scenario.
Sanofi added that it had written to the UK health secretary and NHS chief executive to advise the UK government and NHS of its actions.
The group said it would move some of its operations from the Haverhill manufacturing facility in Suffolk to alternative sites in Europe to maintain the supply of medicines outside the UK. These include some quality-control testing activities and label and packaging for all medicines destined for the EU, which will lead to 12 job losses across several functions by summer 2020.
Britain’s NHS said last month it had started “significant planning” to make sure it had access to key medicines and equipment in the case of a “no-deal” Brexit outcome.
Matt Hancock, the UK’s recently appointed health secretary, told a parliamentary panel last week that he had ordered preparations in case Britain was forced to exit the EU without a withdrawal agreement in March. “We are working with industry to prepare for the potential need for stockpiling in the event of a no-deal Brexit,” he told the health select committee.
Sanofi's preparations, which were first reported by the Wall Street Journal, come as concerns grow that a no-deal Brexit could damage supply chains across numerous key industries.
Dominic Raab, Brexit minister, stirred controversy last month when he said that in the event that Britain failed to secure a deal with Brussels the government would “make sure that there is adequate food supply”.
The British Retail Consortium responded by saying retailers do not have the capacity to stockpile such goods, adding that “our food supply chains are extremely fragile”. – Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2018