What would happen to medical supplies and drinking water if we left with no deal?

5 December 2018

We’ve had help answering this question from our friends at the Institute for Government.

The government has said it would continue to recognise medicines that have already been approved by the EU after no deal so they can still be supplied in the UK. But there are concerns about the risks of short-term disruptions to the supply if there are delays at the border. The government has said it has plans to stockpile six weeks’ worth of medicines (on top of normal stocks) in the event of no deal.  

The European Medicines Agency has said the UK won’t be able to take part in approving medicines for the EU market after March 2019. Medicines have to be approved by an EU member state to be sold in the EU. The company producing the medicine would therefore need to seek authorisation in the rest of the EU to continue to sell its products there.

The issue of what would happen to drinking water has been raised because some chemicals needed in the purification process, which can’t be stored for very long, could be held up at the border in the event of no deal. Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, Michael Gove, told parliament that the water industry is “reliant on chemicals that are imported from the EU” but that the government was taking steps to mitigate the risk of a “reasonable worst-case scenario”.

This article is part of our Ask Full Fact series on Brexit, answering your questions about Brexit and the latest negotiations between the UK and the EU.

You can see all the questions we’ve answered so far here. If you want to ask us your own question, do that here.

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