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 several organisations that claimed that his move to a new position as an advisor to the private pharmaceutical sector might have breached conflict-of-interest rules. In particular, the groups' letter, dated Feb. 25, 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, it was quick to state that it took the agency’s role in protecting the public interest and maintaining a good reputation 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 no risk was posed, but expressed regret at Lönngren's tardiness in notifying it of his new appointments.
Despite the approval, the board imposed a set of limitations that will remain in place for a period of two years effective immediately. The limitations forbid Lönngren to take the following actions:
- Taking managerial or executive positions in the pharmceutical industry
- Providing product-related advice on activities within EMA’s remit
- Having contact with agency staff or committee members in a professional context
- Representing or accompanying third parties at meetings with the agency
By making its decision and supporting documents public, the EMA hopes to ensure accountability and allay the concerns that five European public-health and transparency campaigners raised.