Amsterdam Named New Home of European Medicines Agency

The Center for Biosimilars Staff

Amsterdam, Netherlands, has won its bid to become the new home of the European Medicines Agency.

Amsterdam, Netherlands, has won its bid to become the new home of the European Medicines Agency (EMA). The EMA, currently located in London, United Kingdom, must relocate to an EU member state as a result of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union.

On Monday, multiple rounds of voting by European ministers narrowed the pool of hopeful cities to Amsterdam and Milan, Italy, but failed to determine a clear winner. The Financial Times reports that European ministers resorted to drawing the name of the winning city from a hat.

Amsterdam’s selection will likely come as welcome news to the agency, which recently reported the results of an internal survey that found that 65% or more of the agency’s staff would likely be retained in a move to the Dutch city. EMA had warned European ministers that it could expect to retain less than one-third of its staff if forced to relocate to cities including Athens, Greece; Warsaw, Poland; and Zagreb, Croatia. Amsterdam also earned top marks for meeting many of the EMA’s technical requirements for the facilities it offered to the agency.

In a statement on the European Commission’s decision, Mike Thompson, chief executive of the Association of the British Pharmaceutical Industry (ABPI), urged leaders to focus on ensuring a smooth transition that will ensure patient safety and access to medicines.

"Up to now the focus has inevitably been on the future location of the EMA,” he said. “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.” He added that ABPI calls on “[The United Kingdom] and the [European Union] to put patients first and acknowledge that securing a comprehensive agreement to cooperate on medicines safety, regulation and supply is an urgent negotiating priority."

Another industry group, the European Federation of Pharmaceutical Industries and Association has also called on EU and UK officials to cooperate on a smooth Brexit, having warned that an arrangement that fails to produce a trade deal could interrupt more than 1500 ongoing clinical trials and delay the delivery of millions of patient-ready packages of drugs each month.

The EMA began scaling back its activities in August 2017 in order to prepare for its move, suspending its efforts to develop the European Medicines Web Portal (the agency’s online resource concerning medicines that are marketed in the European Union), contributions to electronic submission projects that will allow for online filing of documents related to medicines authorization, and participation in benchmarking of EU regulatory authorities.