EMA move: “London’s loss is Amsterdam’s gain”

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Amsterdam has been named as the new home of the European Medicines Agency, triggering the start of an “ambitious” relocation programme that must be completed within 16 months.

The Agency will move its headquarters from the current base in London, UK, by the March 2019, as a direct consequence of the UK’s withdrawal from the European Union.

The EMA has been based in London’s Canary Wharf since it was established in 1995, where it employs nearly 900 staff members.

“Now that we finally know where our journey is taking us, we can take concrete actions for a successful move,” said EMA Executive Director Guido Rasi, commenting on the decision.

“Amsterdam ticks many of our boxes,” he continued. “It offers excellent connectivity and a building that can be shaped according to our needs. I am very grateful that the Member States took into account our requirements for business continuity and gave priority to the protection of public and animal health.”

He also noted that internal surveys indicate that “a large majority of EMA staff” would be willing to move with the Agency, but warned that even so “activities will be impacted and we need to plan for this now to avoid the creation of gaps in knowledge and expertise.”

“London’s loss is Amsterdam’s gain,” said Steve Bates, chief executive of the BioIndustry Association. The decision “means a 1000 high quality jobs leaving the UK, disrupting a thousand families as a direct result of Brexit, with implications for thousands more. Businesses now need certainty. The best way to do this is by an early agreement to a transition timeframe and continued close regulatory co-operation.”

Dr Stefan Oschmann, president of the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Associations, also stressed that all authorities and stakeholders must collaborate to support the agency in making its move to Amsterdam. “It is vital to ensure the continuity of the EMA’s critical functions, its ability to retain staff and access expert networks.”

“Even in the context of the Brexit negotiations where all sectors are looking for clarity on the future, it is important to recognise that the medicines sector is different. The medicines we make impact directly on peoples’ health,” added EFPIA director general, Nathalie Moll. “Securing transitional arrangements and long-term cooperation on medicines regulation between the UK and EU is the best way of ensuring that patients across Europe continue to have access to safe and effective medicines.”

"Up to now the focus has inevitably been on the future location of the EMA. But today's decision marks the moment when attention should switch to how patient safety and effective public health can be maintained during this complex transition and into the future,” added Mike Thompson, chief executive of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry.

"We now urge both the UK and the EU to put patients first and acknowledge that securing a comprehensive agreement to cooperate on medicines safety, regulation and supply is an urgent negotiating priority."

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