EMA chief tells pharma to expect higher fees

The European financial crisis could put the squeeze on drug prices in the E.U. Indeed, debt-laden Greece and fiscally wobbly Spain have both announced plans to cut their drug spending. But the financial pain won't stop with state-run health systems.

No, it'll come from the European Medicines Agency, too. EMA chief Thomas Lönngren tells the Wall Street Journal that Europe's fiscal troubles will probably force cuts to his agency's budget--and pharma companies will have to help take up the slack. EMA is likely to impose millions more in new fees on the industry, he said.

"The whole issue of the budget situation in the European Union will of course affect the European Commission and European institutions," he told the paper. "It's the member states who are paying into the pocket of the European Union and of course when member states are getting into trouble ... the whole system has to contribute in some way."

Lönngren said he has been warning drugmakers that their fees could rise. He also said that he doesn't think that higher fees would make the EMA less independent. "We are already financed by fees," he said, adding that he considers his agency to nevertheless be "totally independent" of industry.

- read the WSJ piece