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expert reaction to Amsterdam named as the new location of the European Medicines Agency

Amsterdam has been named as the new headquarters of the European Medicines Agency (EMA).


Jonathan Bruun, CEO of the British Pharmacological Society (BPS), said:

“It was always clear that the UK’s decision to leave the EU, and the EMA’s subsequent move away from London, would pose a daunting challenge to the regulation of medicines and devices. Today’s announcement brings us a step closer to facing that challenge – and we must be proactive.

“The UK has a history of international leadership in this area, and because of this, UK patients are currently among the first to benefit from innovative medicines and devices. If UK expertise is lost, patients in both the EU and the UK will suffer.

“It is still possible to avoid causing significant delays in accessing innovative medicines, but we must act quickly and decisively to put the needs of patients first. We must secure continued cooperation between the UK and the EU. UK agencies, including the MHRA, should be given the resources needed to secure the closest possible partnership with the EMA in Amsterdam. This is an urgent public health issue which demands an equally urgent response from government.”


Dr David Pye, Honorary Policy Officer, Biochemical Society, said:

“The Society is concerned about the loss of the European Medicines Agency from the UK to Amsterdam. The short to medium term disruption to the 500 million people it currently serves will be significant during the transitional period. Patients and families will certainly suffer from the slowdown in processing approvals of new treatment but so will the UK’s wider economy. The UK needs a strong pharmaceutical industry, now more than ever, as the country leaves the EU. Losing the EMA from London represents a risk for future investment in this sector of the economy. The possible designation of the UK to third country status as a result of Brexit negotiations, would end access to the EMA’s services and the UK’s influence on future EU regulatory changes. This could have damaging consequences for the NHS, health of patients and the pharmaceutical sector.”


Prof. John Hardy, Professor of Neuroscience, UCL, said:

“Congratulations to Amsterdam and the Netherlands for winning the coin toss with Milan and Italy for the European Medicines Agency. The reason this is a big win is two fold: first it is a major employer…900 reasonably highly paid jobs… but second because this will be a magnet to Holland and Flanders (which already have strong pharma industries) for inward drug company investment and for divestment from the UK. Three biggest sectors of the UK are Banks, the Pharma industry and Academia; all three will be severely impacted by Brexit as we learn day by day. As many neutral commentators have said, Brexit is the biggest act of economic self-harm in 5 years brought about by an ill thought out dishonest referendum in which important economic and political issues were not even mentioned.”


Steve Bates, Bioindustry Industry Association (BIA) CEO, said:

“London’s loss is Amsterdam’s gain. Today’s decision on the location of the European Medicines Agency 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. We must now ensure Brexit does not disrupt the safe supply of vital medicines to tens of millions of families in the EU 27 and the UK.”


Mike Thompson, Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), Chief Executive, says:

“Congratulations to Amsterdam on their successful bid. Hosting the EMA is a singular honour for any city and we will do all we can to support the agency’s smooth transition to its new home.

“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.

“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.”


Ms Aisling Burnand, chief executive of the Association of Medical Research Charities said:

“One of the expected consequences of Brexit has been that the EMA headquarters may transfer from the UK. Today’s announcement confirms this to be the case. We are calling for reassurance that this will not have adverse effects on patients in the UK and EU. This is best achieved by ensuring an orderly transition. Patients must not get slower access to new drugs and treatments as a result of this move.

“Continued EU-wide regulatory frameworks for special populations (rare disease, paediatric and the elderly) are particularly vital. Taken together, between 6000 and 8000 rare diseases affect the daily lives of around 30 million people in the EU. A single authorisation for the EU can make the distribution of medicines for small and special populations cost effective, where seeking multiple approvals through regulatory procedures could be very expensive.”


Prof. John Hardy, Professor of Neuroscience, UCL, said:

“This is just another unforeseen (by the politicians) consequence of Brexit.  Of itself, it is bad enough news… many highly skilled jobs moving out of the country.  But a greater impact will be the tug this exerts on the pharmaceutical companies as they weigh up where to make their clinical research investments.  Over time, this is likely to lead to a disinvestment in the UK of pharmaceutical industry jobs and this has been a major source of revenue and employment for the UK.”


Declared interests

Prof. John Hardy: “No relevant conflicts.”

None others received.

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