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EMA sets aside £32m for temporary staff to help with Brexit move

As agency warns current tender system needs to be updated

EMA relocationThe European Medicines Agency has published a tender notice for temporary staff worth almost £32m ($42m) as it prepares for the move from London.

The agency - which has said it expects to lose at least a fifth of its workforce when it leaves the UK capital - is trying to attract people with scientific, regulatory, legal and policy expertise, as well as administrative, accounting and audit staff, to work in its London office, making up for short-term staff loss and excess work.

It has already acknowledged that depending on the eventual location of the EMA, its existing business continuity plan may not be enough to keep the agency running effectively, and it could face years of recovery before it is back up to full operating capacity.

The EMA’s use of the tender system for temporary staff is not new and has been used routinely to help cope with ‘spikes in workload’ or to replace staff who take long-term leave, but the current system will shortly expire and needs to be updated to cater for the Brexit-related move, it told the Financial Times.

Even if a location favoured by current EMA staff is selected, the disruption from the move would lead to delays in approving new medicines, and probably slower progress on public health initiatives, while the agency would have to accommodate a drop in income from fees that would have a knock-on effect on the funding it can provide to EU national regulators.

At the other extreme, the EMA says it could face a “public health crisis” and an “unravelling of the single market for medicines [with] no centralised authorisations” that in turn could lead to patient deaths and possible litigation.

EMA board member Yann Le Cam said that the decision concerning the EMA relocation among the 19 bidding cities “should not be based on what the EMA would bring to the new host country, but on whether the new host country has what it takes to preserve the value of what the EMA brings to patients in the EU.”

“The capacity of the new host city to retain current staff and attract new people at the same level of quality is key for this,” he added, in what some have interpreted as a pre-emption of resistance from newer EU states if the agency relocates to a city among the older member states. It has been suggested that Amsterdam, Barcelona, Copenhagen, Milan and Vienna were favoured by staff in the recent poll.

The General Affairs Council of the EU is scheduled to decide on the EMA’s new location on 20 November 2017.

Article by
Phil Taylor

9th October 2017

From: Regulatory

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