Ex-EMA chief ran consultancy firm whilst still in office

pharmafile | December 19, 2011 | News story | Sales and Marketing EMA, Lonngren, NDA 

The former head of the European Medicines Agency Thomas Lonngren set up his own consultancy business to advise pharma whilst still employed at the regulator.

This is according to an alliance of European lobby groups seeking to increase transparency and ethics in regulatory affairs.

The Alliance for Lobbying Transparency and Ethics Regulation (ALTER-EU), Formindep and HAI Europe, have all appealed to the commissioner for health and Consumer Policy, John Dalli, and to the new head of EMA, Guido Rasi, to look into the issue.

Lonngren was head of the EMA until the end of last year when he controversially stepped down to work for the pharma consultancy firm the NDA Group.

But the groups are alleging that for two months before he left the regulator, Lonngren had set up his own consultancy firm, Pharma Executive Consulting Ltd, within the NDA.

Specifically, his consultancy firm was being run out of the NDA’s regulatory science division, which advises nine out of 10 pharma firms seeking regulatory approval for their products, representing a major conflict of interest. 

The groups added that Lonngren’s conduct could amount to a breach of the staff regulations that govern the conduct of European officials. 

Katrina Perehudoff speaking on behalf of HAI Europe and the Steering Committee of ALTER-EU, said: “The potential for NDA’s clients in the pharmaceutical industry to benefit, however indirectly, from Lonngren’s extensive network and knowledge of the European regulatory system as a result of his position at EMA is in conflict with the core mandate of EMA as a regulatory agency.

“It is hard to see how such a job move does not provoke a conflict of interest with his former responsibilities as an executive director who oversaw the evaluation and approval of medicines.

“This new evidence of breaches of the rules in such a high-profile revolving door case highlights the substantial loopholes that still exist in the EU’s Staff Regulations and how they are implemented by EMA,” she said.

Anne Chailleu from Formindep added: “Revolving doors, where the regulated become confused with the regulators, are at the core of NDA’s business model. 

“Six out of the ten members of NDA’s Advisory Board are former regulators at EMA and other regulatory agencies.

“Industry is exploiting its links to the European regulatory framework. This is damaging the trust that European citizens should place in officials appointed to protect public health.” 

Ben Adams 

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