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EMA faces 'permanent damage' if forced to go to an unpopular city

Warns eight candidate cities wouldn't retain minimum staff numbers it needs

EMA relocationThe European Medicines Agency has issued a dire warning should it be relocated to eight of the 19 cities currently vying to replace London as its host.

Picking any of those eight could lead to a public health crisis, with “permanent damage” to the drug regulation system and a need for emergency EU legislation, the regulator said.

The eight, unnamed, cities scored the lowest in a new staff retention survey, putting each on course to hold on to less than 30% of workers should one of them be selected as the Agency’s post-Brexit home.

The picture was particularly bad for three of those cities - 10% or less of staff said they would move there.

The EMA’s best-case scenario covers just five cities, each of which is expected to see it retain at least 65% of staff.

But that would still see an exodus of skilled workers that could cause drug approval delays and a wait of up to three years before EMA operations return to normal.

The agency said: “Some staff losses can be absorbed with EMA’s business continuity plan, but beyond a critical threshold the Agency will no longer be able to fulfil its mandate to protect the health of European citizens.”

The survey was sent to all the Agency’s 880 or so employees, with 92% filling it out earlier this month.

It asked them how likely they were to relocate to each of the 19 candidate host cities, based on the official member state offers and the extent to which they fulfil their (and their family's) needs and expectations to settle in a new location.

Additional results saw a further five cities expected to attract more than 50% of EMA staff, but taking up to five years to recover, and one candidate city likely retain 48% of workers with a potential ten-year recovery time.

Alongside the staff survey the EMA ran a scenario planning exercise that placed the cities into one of four groups, based on how staff retention levels would impact its existing workload.

This ranged from the approval of new medicines largely being maintained, for those five cities with the highest expected retention rates, to the “unravelling of the EU single market for medicines” at the opposite end of the scale.

The agency said: “The outcome that was shared with staff earlier this month revealed that for certain locations staff retention rates could be significantly less than 30%.

“This would mean that the agency is no longer able to function and, as there is no backup, this would have important consequences for public health in the EU.”

“The results of the survey emphasise the importance of the upcoming decision on the EMA’s future seat as the retention of skilled and experienced staff is crucial for the Agency’s continuity of operations,” the agency said.

Although the survey results don’t name the countries, the results could strongly influence November’s decision on where the EMA will move to when it leaves London in 2019.

28th September 2017

From: Regulatory



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