Top Spanish drugmaker fears disruption if EMA moves from Britain

Buses pass in front of Spanish pharmaceutical company Almirall's headquarters in central Barcelona September 3, 2008. Almirall on Wednesday announced disappointing trial results for a key lung drug, raising concerns for the product's future and spurring a sell-off of its shares and those of partner Forest Laboratories Inc. REUTERS/Gustau Nacarino (SPAIN) - RTX8DCJ

By Emma Pinedo MADRID (Reuters) - The likely relocation of the European Medicines Agency (EMA) from London threatens to disrupt the approval of new drugs and is a medium and long-term worry for top Spanish drugmaker Almirall, its chief executive said on Monday. The EMA, Europe's equivalent the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, approves medicines for all European Union countries from its headquarters in London's Canary Wharf financial district. After Britain's vote on June 23 to leave the European Union, it is widely expected to transfer to another city within the EU. "When they invoke Article 50, EMA will probably leave Britain and this will produce a very large disruption ... it's worrying that the approval process of new pharmaceuticals could be hit by this," Eduardo Sanchiz said. Article 50 is the EU treaty clause that would trigger two years of negotiations on the terms of Britain's exit from the bloc. Almirall, one of Spain's top drugmakers, operates mostly in the United States and Europe, with Britain its fifth most important market. As a result, any impact from the devaluation of the pound would be limited, Sanchiz said. Separately, Sanchiz said Almirall could be interested in acquiring assets of the Canadian drugs company Valeant, although the sales process was still very preliminary. (Writing by Paul Day, editing by David Evans)

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