Denmark, Sweden eye post-Brexit EU drugs agency

The building in which the European Medecines Agency (EMA) is located in the Canary Wharf district of London. [European Communities]

Denmark’s pharmaceutical industry is going head-to-head with its Swedish counterpart by arguing Denmark should be the new home of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) if Britons vote to leave the European Union in a June referendum.

“We will put pressure on the government to do everything it can to attract the European agency to Denmark,” Ida Sofie Jensen, head of the Danish Association of the Pharmaceutical Industry, told the MedWatch trade publication.

“When a biotech company or a company in the pharma sector has to decide where to place its headquarters, the preferred places as it is now are Boston, the UK, Switzerland, and Denmark. Boston is in the US, Switzerland is not in the EU, and if the UK leaves the EU and EMA has to move, the obvious location would be Denmark.”

According to Jensen, the relationship between the pharmaceutical industry, universities, and public authorities and hospitals “is very strong” in Denmark. And while Sweden has great hospitals and universities, it no longer has a strong industry since AstraZeneca fell into British hands, she claims.

“You simply have to say that the Swedes no longer have the pharmaceutical industry, because it left Sweden,” Jensen said.

The EMA, which approves medicines for all EU countries, has been based in London since it started in 1995, but a so-called Brexit could force it to relocate to a new city inside the bloc.

Jensen’s comments follow a call by the director general of Sweden’s pharma trade body last week for his country to host the organisation if Britain leaves.

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