European firms aren’t alone in their Brexit pain – Pfizer, the US-based drug behemoth, says its costs for dealing with the upcoming split will reach $100m (€86.4m).
The UK’s looming rupture with the EU threatens to slow goods at borders and force firms to duplicate regulatory efforts. Pfizer said its costs stem from transferring product testing and licences to other countries, changing clinical-trial procedures, and other preventive measures.
It is working “to meet EU legal requirements after the UK is no longer a member state, especially in the regulatory, manufacturing and supply-chain areas”, according to a filing last month where it cited the cost estimate.
Pfizer – which got about 2pc of its $53bn in 2017 revenue from the UK – highlights the pharmaceutical industry’s dilemma as it braces for a rocky, no-deal Brexit. Uncertainty has forced companies including AstraZeneca, GlaxoSmithKline and Merck to prepare for a worst-case scenario.
Pharma companies have long relied on their ability to move people and goods in and out of countries, and Britain’s departure could complicate many aspects. The UK Department of Health last month told drugmakers to build six-week stockpiles of their products in preparation for potential delays.
Much of the industry had already begun hoarding medicines or investing in new facilities to release drugs. AstraZeneca, which has committed to setting aside a three-month supply of its products, said it can’t raise inventories of one of its cancer drugs because its production facilities are already at full capacity.