MILAN, Feb 23 (APM) - Doubts in Italy about the transparency of the process to choose a new host for the European Medicines Agency (EMA) have been fuelled by the surprise decision of a top EU civil servant to step down, according to Thursday’s Corriere della Sera.
Officially, Alexander Italianer has taken early retirement. But the man described as the EU’s “most important Euro-bureaucrat” only served two years when, according to the paper, the average is five. Corriere della Sera has claimed that Dutchman Italianer and his counterpart at the Council of Europe, Jeppe Tranholm-Mikklesen, kept a part of Amsterdam’s dossier secret at the request of the Dutch government.
Had the information been available, it would have shown that Amsterdam was unable to have a building ready in time and boosted the candidacies of cities such as Milan, Barcelona, Copenhagen and Vienna, the paper argued. It made clear that it thinks the timing of Italianer's departure is more than a coincidence.
In a separate article on Thursday, Corriere della Sera revealed that the president of the European parliament, Italian Antonio Tajani, has written to European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker requesting access to all the information in Amsterdam’s dossier and the commission’s assessment of it. Tajani is reported to want a complete account to present to the European parliament so it can make up its own mind about Amsterdam’s candidacy.
Saturday’s Il Sole 24 Ore suggested that the costs of transferring the EMA are already 34% higher than they should have been because Amsterdam is not ready.
Parallel exports behind pharmacy drug shortages
Parallel exports are behind growing shortages of certain drugs dispensed by pharmacies, according to Saturday’s Libero.
Anti-nausea drugs for chemotherapy patients, medications to treat epilepsy, diabetes, hypertension and pain relief therapies are among the most difficult to find, the paper was told.
The head of the Verona branch of trade association Federfarma, Marco Bacchini, said he is in no doubt about what causes the problem. “Too many exports and not enough sales inside Italy,” he told the paper.
However, the head of pharma lobby group Farmindustria, Massimo Scaccabarozzi, denied that drug companies are to blame. “Drug prices in Italy are among the lowest in Europe. The wholesalers and other distribution companies prefer to sell abroad, where they have higher returns,” he said.
Scottish scientist chosen to head Milan’s life sciences centre
A Scottish scientist has been chosen to head the Human Technopole, an extensive life sciences centre being built on the former Expo site in Milan, Il Sole 24 Ore reported on Saturday.
Iain Mattaj is currently director general of the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg. The Human Technopole’s coordinating committee selected him from a shortlist of five candidates presented by a group of international scientists.
The paper said Mattaj is known for his work on how RNA and proteins are transported between the cell nucleus and cytoplasm. He will manage a huge new site spread across an area of 30,000 square metres with seven different research centres and four scientific supporting structures. When it is fully operational it will have more than 1,500 scientists and administrative staff.
Measles cases soar in Italy as vaccination coverage declines
The number of measles cases in Italy has soared as vaccination coverage continues to decline, Il Giornale reported on Monday.
There were just over 5,000 cases in 2017, six times as many as a year earlier. Vaccination coverage in Italy fell to 85% last year. Only Romania, which had 5,560 cases, is in a more serious situation.
The U.S. has declared Italy to be one of the countries where tourists are at risk because of falling vaccination coverage for a number of diseases. The paper noted that vaccinations against 10 diseases will be mandatory for schoolchildren after 10 March.
Health minister Beatrice Lorenzin has admitted to being under strong pressure to cancel the legislation which made 10 vaccinations compulsory for all schoolchildren under the age of 16, Avvenire reported on Tuesday.
However, she insisted that there will be no turning back because to do so would put the whole country at risk.
Competition authority probes diagnostics suppliers
Italy’s competition authority has launched an inquiry into diagnostics suppliers GE Medical Systems Italia, Siemens Healthcare and Philips, Il Sole 24 Ore reported on Tuesday.
Another supplier, Althea Group, made an official complaint. Italy’s antitrust authority is looking to establish if the three multinationals have been using anti-competitive practices to keep other suppliers out of the market. In this case, they will have prevented the national health service from making savings when buying diagnostics equipment, the paper said.