EMA unveils business continuity plan ahead of UK exit from EU

The European Medicines Agency on Tuesday disclosed a business continuity plan ahead of its relocation from the UK as part of the country's decision to leave the EU. The EMA indicated that it will be reallocating its resources to maintain higher-priority activities over the coming years.

EMA's head of the Brexit task force Noel Wathion commented "preparing for the move, managing the necessary changes, and addressing challenges such as possible losses in skilled and experienced staff, in a proactive and efficient way requires considerable internal resources." Wathion added "with the business continuity plan we aim to ensure that the assessment of medicines is not disrupted."

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Specifically, the EMA stated that among other initiatives, it was temporarily discontinuing development of the European Medicines Web Portal, a new publicly available website providing information on all drugs marketed in Europe, as well as an electronic submission project for medicines. The regulator added that it will also cut the number of audits, as well as some corporate governance and support activities, whilst the participation of EMA staff in external meetings and conferences has been reduced, as has the organisation of meetings and workshops.

The EMA currently employs around 900 staff, with 19 cities, including Milan, Copenhagen, Athens, Amsterdam and Barcelona, bidding to host the regulator once it leaves London. However, The Telegraph reported Tuesday that 75 percent of EMA employees do not want to leave the UK. A spokeswoman for the agency said "at this stage EMA cannot confirm how many staff may be willing to move as the decision on the location of the future seat of the Agency is expected only in November."

Last month, a report suggested that UK lawmakers are keen to continue to cooperate with the EU over drug regulation after Brexit. UK health secretary Jeremy Hunt and business secretary Greg Clark said the UK's "desired outcome is to find a way to continue to collaborate with the European regulatory framework, in the interests of public health and safety."

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