Fears China’s lockdown could impact on medicines supplies
Author: Ingrid Torjesen
As China is a leading manufacturer of medicines and other healthcare products, there are fears that restrictions imposed by the Chinese government in response to the coronavirus outbreak could impact on supply.
In light of these concerns the Department of Health and Social Care has announced that it is evaluating the potential impact of coronavirus on the supply of medicines and medical goods.
It has asked suppliers to carry out a risk assessment on the impact of coronavirus on their business – and as an extra precaution to retain existing stockpiles of medical supplies, compiled as a contingency measure ahead of our exit from the European Union. The Department of Health and Social Care is also working with NHS Supply Chain to retain centralised stock of medical products.
There are no current medicine shortages in the UK linked to the situation in China, but there are concerns that existing and future restrictions on the movement of people and products within China could impact on the supply chain of medicines and other healthcare products. China is a key producer of active pharmaceutical ingredients and also manufacturers many products used in healthcare settings.
Health minister Nicola Blackwood said: “We are not aware of any current medicine shortages linked to this novel coronavirus, but we are putting in place common-sense measures as a precaution to help to ensure the uninterrupted supply of medicines to UK patients.
“We have world-class systems in place to prevent supply problems and we are working closely with industry and partners to prevent shortages and ensure the risks to patients are minimised.”
The Department of Health and Social Care has emphasised that there is no need for the public or NHS to stockpile products because it will work closely with industry and partners to continually monitor the impact of coronavirus on the UK supply chain and put in place measures to protect UK patients.
The department has well-established procedures to deal with medicine shortages and works closely with the MHRA, the pharmaceutical industry, NHS England and others operating in the supply chain to help prevent shortages and ensure that the risks to patients are minimised when shortages do arise anywhere in the UK.