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EMA staff losses slowed to 6% over summer, but challenges to meeting regulatory programme continue

Country : UK, Europe

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LONDON, 4 Oct (APM) - The European Medicines Agency (EMA) on Friday noted it lost a further 6% of its workforce between June and October due to its Brexit-forced relocation - a slowdown from previous months, but still something which means challenges ahead for the regulatory programme.
The ongoing staffing constraints mean that delivering the EMA's work programme for Q4 2019 will be "challenging", the regulator said, "particularly in view of the need to implement new legislation for veterinary medicines and medical devices, which will bring additional workload".
Its total "available workforce" is now roughly 730 people, compared with 776 in June, according to highlights published on Friday from its October 2019 board meeting, that was held on Thursday.
After the EMA uprooted from its London headquarters to Amsterdam following the UK's vote to leave the European Union, many staff were still working remotely in England while deciding whether to make the move. In May, EMA chief Guido Rasi said there were still 312 people 'teleworking' (APMHE 63099).
These interim arrangements have now "largely come to an end", the EMA said, suggesting the roughly 730 have made their decisions.
The 6% decline is less than that forecasts aired by the EMA following its June board meeting, when the regulator said it is "still anticipating a staff loss of between 20-25%". Its staff had then already fallen from 901 at the end of 2018 to 776 in early June.
It said at the time that despite a recruitment drive to replace those deciding not to move to Amsterdam, "the agency does not anticipate reaching its previous headcount, which included a large number of colleagues on short-term local contracts".
Delivering the work programme in the fourth quarter will be challenging, the regulator said this week.
Rasi is now reviewing the EMA's organisational structure as a result and is looking to set up task forces to continue work in key priority areas, including digital business transformation, data analytics and methods, regulatory science and innovation and clinical trials and manufacturing strategy, it said.
"Operations in the area of human medicines will be integrated to strengthen the therapeutic focus all along a medicine's lifecycle, with the ultimate aim of assuring the quality of scientific opinions and further improving support to EMA’s scientific committees," it added.
"Overall, this will ensure that the Agency is geared up for the future with more efficient processes firmly rooted in digital technology to keep pace with rapid advances in science. More information will be shared with stakeholders in due course."

New building ready in November

EMA staff are currently working from a temporary headquarters in Amsterdam. The new headquarters in Amsterdam Zuid will be completed in November as planned (APMHE 56783) and the building will be handed over to the EMA on 15 November, it said.
"Between mid-November and January, moving of equipment, IT configuration and testing will take place so that staff can move in during the week starting 13 January 2020."
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