Pharmaceutical storage spikes with stockpiles for no-deal Brexit

The demand for pharmaceutical storage continues to grow as a no-deal Brexit looks ever more likely. 

In the lead-up to the October 31 Brexit deadline, official no-deal preparations by the civil service are underway to secure “extra warehouse space” for medicine and other essentials. The Department of Health and Social Care warned, however, that “significant disruption would be expected […] following a no-deal exit, with the most severe period being the first three months” and asked companies to maintain a rolling six-week stockpile for six months. This was echoed recently by the leaked Operation Yellowhammer documents, which describe Brexit’s worst case scenario of disruption at ports potentially lasting up to three months.

Pharmaceutical companies’ plans have gone significantly above the six-week recommendation, however. The US manufacturer of insulin and diabetes medicine, Eli Lilly said its “Brexit investment has been significant and in many cases our planning, including our own medicine stockpiling, exceeds government guidance.”

The Guardian further detailed these preparations, highlighting the huge investment required for further storage. AstraZeneca will spend £50m to boost medicine supplies by increasing warehouse storage to a four-and-a-half-month stockpile. GlaxoSmithKline, the UK’s biggest drug producer, will spend £70m on several solutions, including additional warehouse space. Pfizer, the world’s largest drug-maker, estimates its Brexit preparations to cost £78m.

The specifics of the government stockpiles came to light in answer to a parliamentary question on drug storage. Stephen Hammond, Minister of State for Health and Social Care, said that pharmaceutical storage has been arranged to facilitate “53,000 pallets of ambient storage, 5,000 pallets of refrigerated storage, and 850 pallets of controlled-drug storage.” This is expected to last for another 7 to 13 months. Hammond went on to say that it “is expected to cost the government in the low tens of millions of pounds, with the refrigerated storage expected to cost circa £1m.”

In the event of a Brexit deal being reached, Hammond said that “warehouse providers are required to decommission the additional capacity.”

In these uncertain times, the shifting goalposts of warehouse demands must be addressed by flexible construction solutions. Rubb prides itself in the adaptability of its fabric structures. Whole Rubb projects can be relocated, expanded, dismantled and stored or even sold to new users. Rubb’s fabric structures represent a stable investment and an ideal solution to the UK’s warehouse issues.

Rubb’s Boots pharmaceutical cold storage facility is a prime example of the longterm benefits of a Rubb structure. Originally built in 1982, the warehouse is still in operation today at 37 years old. The 20m wide x 75m long structure was re-sheeted two years ago, breathing new life into the warehouse and ensuring it stays active for many more years to come.