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MEPs approve medicines agency 2009 budget

The European Parliament approved the European Medicines Agency's 2009 budget during a vote on 25 October.

MEPs said that the Agency had “taken action to remedy shortcomings in its [budget] management”, flagged by the Parliament’s Committee for budgetary control in May. The budget approval was denied previously when the agency came under fire over conflicts of interest and independence.

In particular, MEPs had criticised what they consider a lack of independence of some experts hired to evaluate human medicines. The EMA says it has now strengthened the rules on how it handles potential conflicts of interest of its staff and experts.

The Parliament warned the agency that some concerns remain, however. The agency should assess thoroughly the impartiality and independence of its staff members; improve its procurement procedures; and keep the Parliament better informed of its progress.

The Greens in the European Parliament have opposed the vote. They claim that the London-based agency “lacks the ambition to fight against the faults that affect its reputation and integrity”.

Michèle Rivasi, a Green MEP from France, said in a statement: “EMA dodges the bullet when it says that it is not its responsibility to ask for or check the annual declaration of interests of the experts in charge of evaluating drugs, because it is a competence of member states.”

The European Parliament is responsible for granting budget discharges to the European Commission and other EU bodies in each financial year.