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Amsterdam applauded as new EMA headquarters

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Amsterdam has beaten Milan and Copenhagen in the race to become the European Medicines Agency's new home. Pharma and biotech stakeholders applauded the vote as Amsterdam achieved the hightest rate of acceptance of the EMA staff for relocatation, according to a survey.

“London’s loss is Amsterdam’s gain. Today’s decision on the location of the European Medicines Agency means 1,000 high quality jobs leaving the UK, disrupting 1,000 families as a direct result of Brexit, with implications for thousands more. Businesses now need certainty," Steve Bates, the head of the British Industry Association commented. Pharma and biotech industry representatives seemed to be concerned that the ageny won't be able to continue its full services in a transition period due to staff loss. "It is vital that the relocation of the EMA will be carried out in such a way as to minimise as much as possible any disruptions that could negatively affect access to medicines for patients”, stressed John Brennan, Secretary General of EuropaBio, the European biotech indutry voice . "We hope that the EMA will be able to attract as many as of its staff as possible to relocate," added Birgit Fischer, Head of German Pharma association VFA.

In a previous survey with a 92% response rate, 81% of the EMA staff had indicated that they would be willing to relocate to Amsterdam, which finally outcompeted Milan and Copenhagen after several rounds of votings. Even if only 65% would relocate to the EMA's new home, the Vivaldi Towers located in the south of the city, the EMA would need 2-3 years for full recovery, according to scenarios of an EMA study.

The Agency has already prioritised three priority levels based on the required workforce: 

Level 1 activities (462 full-time employees required) include all activities needed to evaluate and monitor the safety of medicines, and to uphold the regulatory network’s infrastructure.

Level 2 activities (additional 140 FTEs required) relate to public health issues, such as fighting antimicrobial resistance, improving access to medicines, and establishing collaboration of HTAs.

Level 3 activities (additional 110 FTEs required) cover corporate governance, audits, and participation in conferences and meetings.

"Amsterdam ticks many of our boxes," said EMA's chief Guido Rasi, who has only 16 months to move until the Brexit. Two  temporary backup premises, kept confidentially before Amsterdam's selection will be available from January 2019, while Vivaldi Towers will be suited to the Agency's needs, with 1.350 workplaces, several meeting rooms, auditorium, 4G connectivity and located just 10 minutes from Amsterdam's airport Schiphol. Amsterdam will invest more than €10m to expand their offers for international schools. According to Amsterdam's offer to the European Commission, a relocation plan could be started immediately and would end in Q3/2019.

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