FRANKFURT (Reuters) – Europe’s drugmakers pushed for a decision as early as June on the new location for the headquarters of the bloc’s medicines watchdog, which will relocate from London after Britain’s decision to leave the EU.
The European Medicines Agency (EMA), employing nearly 900 staff, acts as a one-stop-shop for approving new treatments and monitoring the safety of drugs and veterinary products across the region.
The new location will be decided by the EU’s heads of state, whose next meeting as the European Council is scheduled for June 22-23.
“The Council’s deliberations on the Agency’s future location need to be conducted on the basis of very essential criteria and put for decision as early on as possible, preferably at its meeting in June this year,” European pharma lobby group EFPIA said in a statement on Monday signed by 19 top executives at member companies including Pfizer, Novartis, Sanofi and Roche.
The industry warned that getting it wrong could impact the region’s high level of public health.
“Were a rapid resolution on the future location of the EMA not to materialise, or if the future seat of the European Medicines Agency were to fail in terms of establishing its minimum prerequisites, the quality of its work and the future of the European Medicines Regulatory Network would be placed in jeopardy,” the statement said.
EMA’s executive director Guido Rasi earlier this month also called for a decision in June and for a carefully planned relocation so as not to disrupt the body’s work.
The EMA, the largest EU body in Britain, has been based in London since its birth in 1995 and it moved into new premises in Canary Wharf on a 25-year lease less than three years ago.
No fewer than 21 EU member states have expressed their interest in hosting the EMA, including Italy, Denmark, Sweden, Spain, France, Ireland and Poland.
The new location would have to offer sufficient transport infrastructure and accommodation for EMA staff and its tens of thousands of annual visitors and quality housing, schools and employment opportunities for spouses and family to retain its staff.
(Reporting by Ludwig Burger; Editing by Elaine Hardcastle)