Politics, UK Biotech

The UK isn’t giving up on keeping the European Medicines Agency’s HQ in London without a fight

EMA’s London headquarters in Canary Wharf on September 22nd, 2014. Gordon Bell/Shutterstock

The EU may be hosting a competition to see which of its member states will get to host the EMA, but British officials insist that there’s absolutely no reason for the agency to decamp from London just because the UK is exiting the union.

The Financial Times reports that David Davis, Brexit secretary, is fighting to keep the drug agency as well as the European Banking Authority at Canary Wharf, along with the hundreds of workers and steady flow of visitors that each receives every year.

European Council President Donald Tusk, meanwhile, is in the final stages of laying out the criteria for a new host city, and evidently EU officials aren’t including a special category for staying on the Thames.

“The EMA and EBA both have to go to a member state,” an EU official told the FT. “There are many interested member states. There is a broad understanding that it is something that you need to move quickly on.”

The 890 staffers at the EMA decide drug approvals for some 500 million people in a crucial market for the biopharma industry. The agency also hosts thousands of meetings each year. That kind of profile has evidently attracted the attention of virtually every remaining member state in the EU, which would consider hosting the EMA a plum that would help focus additional attention on their own biopharma industry.

Another consideration: There have been reports that a large number of staffers aren’t going to leave London. That decision will rest a lot on which city will become the new home for the EMA. Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Milan, Stockholm, Barcelona and Dublin are just some of the contenders. And it will likely be some months before we know.

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