In a press release on Mar. 21, 2011, the EMA Management Board gave its approval for the current activities of former executive director Thomas Lönngren.
Lönngren, who stepped down on Dec. 31, 2010, came under fire from a number of organisations that claimed conflict-of-interest rules might have been breached. In particular, the letter, dated Feb. 24, 2010, expressed concern that “there was no ‘cooling off’ period between his former and current employment”.
Though the EMA Management Board approved Lönngren’s recent appointments, they were quick to state that the agency’s role in protecting the public interest and maintaining a good reputation were being taken seriously.
The Board based its decision on two factors: “Firstly, whether any activity risked the misuse of confidential or privileged information gained during his leadership of the Agency and secondly whether any activity risked improper influence on decisions taken by the Agency.” The Board concluded that there was no risk as presented by communications with Lönngren, but expressed regret at his tardiness in notifying them of the new appointments.
Despite the approval, the Board imposed a set of limitations that will remain in place for a period of two years with immediate effect, which stated that he should not:
- take managerial/executive positions in the pharma industry
- provide product-related advice on activities within EMA’s remit
- have contact with Agency staff or committee members in a professional context
- represent or accompany third parties at meetings with the agency.
In making its decision and supporting documents public, the EMA hopes to ensure accountability whilst appeasing the concerns raised by the five European public-health and transparency campaigners involved.