EMA board taps Italian regulator to head agency

It's been a long time coming, but Europe has finally nominated someone to take the reins at its drug regulatory agency. Italy's Guido Rasi was nominated to run the European Medicines Agency after a search process that has drawn fire from critics and the European Parliament, InPharm reports.

Rasi currently heads up AIFA, the Italian drugs agency, and he's been a member of the EMA board since last year. He was nominated by his fellow board members, and his appointment subject to approval from the European Parliament. If approved, he'll replace Thomas Lonngren, who left the agency at the end of last year. Andreas Pott, the EMA's administrative chief, has been serving on an interim basis since Lonngren departed.

It was controversy over Lonngren's departure that helped cast a shadow over the search process. Lonngren accepted a post with a pharma consulting firm soon after leaving, prompting questions about conflicts of interest. Pat O'Mahony, who heads up the Irish Medicines Board, had been considered a front-runner for Lonngren's job, but he fell out of favor because he personally approved Lonngren's consulting job without even mentioning the potential for conflicts.

Rasi has been a pharma consultant himself. From 1995 to 2006, he consulted with the U.S. drugmaker Scilcone on its Thymosin 21 drug, InPharm notes. But his current declaration of interests contains no signs of conflicts. His appointment will be evaluated by a parliamentary committee July 13, followed by a review by the full parliament.

- read the InPharm story