EMA cuts services amid Brexit staff exodus


Europe's medicines regulator has said it is temporarily cutting services as it will lose at least 30% of its staff as it relocates to Amsterdam during Brexit.

The European Medicines Agency has been based in London for the last two decades but is moving to the Netherlands because of Brexit.

Its new home was decided in a complex bidding process late last year, and the eventual victory of Amsterdam over a raft of rival bids was seen as an option that limited damage to this key agency.

But last week the EMA said temporary cuts in activities are required because it has become clear that it will lose more staff than initially anticipated.

Staff who will not relocate to Amsterdam have already started to leave and the trend is expected to accelerate.

A further 135 short-term contract staff will no longer be able to work for EMA, which expects around 30% of staff to leave.

In a statement the EMA said there is a “high degree of uncertainty regarding mid-term staff retention.”

Prior to the decision to relocate to Amsterdam, the EMA employed around 890 people at its headquarters in Canary Wharf.

But until it can find replacements for the staff who are leaving, the EMA will focus on core activities of evaluation and supervision of drugs.

Activities cut back include collaboration at international level in areas such as harmonisation of global medicine regulation, in which the EMA will only take a reactive role.

Development and revision of guidelines will be limited to addressing urgent public or animal health needs and non-product working parties will be cut as a result.

Project governance activities will also be cut and stakeholder meetings will be limited to “Brexit-related interactions”.

Clinical data publication will be temporarily suspended starting this week, although data packages submitted for medicines until the end of July will be processed and finalised.