Roche ships supplies from Germany to plug UK tests shortfall

FILE PHOTO: The logo of Swiss drugmaker Roche is seen at its headquarters in Basel, Switzerland February 1, 2018. REUTERS/Arnd Wiegmann/File Photo

ZURICH (Reuters) - Swiss drugs and diagnostics group Roche is shipping supplies from Germany to help Britain’s National Health Service (NHS) fill gaps caused by a logistics glitch at a Roche warehouse in southern England, it said on Thursday.

Roche, a main supplier of COVID-19 and other diagnostic tests to the NHS, told UK customers on Wednesday that a switch from an old warehouse to a new automated distribution centre had caused an unforeseen technical issue that hit processing capacity.

“We are confident that the plans we have put in place will deliver significant improvements by the weekend to the supply of the tests affected by these logistical issues,” Roche said on Thursday, reiterating its timetable from Wednesday.

“These plans include the introduction of an additional shift in the warehouse and the temporary direct shipment to customers in the UK and Ireland from our warehouse in Mannheim, Germany,” a spokesman said by email.

The NHS said on Wednesday it was made aware of a likely shortage of reagent supplied by Roche Diagnostics Ltd caused by issues in its supply chain.

Experts said the supply disruption was affecting a range of tests including for magnesium levels and other materials such as supplies for blood gas analysers which are crucial for the treatment of respiratory illnesses, including COVID-19.

Roche has said the issue affected only the UK and Ireland and that the glitch had not affected its ability to supply COVID-19 tests in the UK.

Roche diabetes care products are not affected as they use a separate warehouse in Bedfordshire, a spokesman said.

Reporting by Paul Arnold, Writing by Michael Shields, Editing by Mark Potter, Kirsten Donovan