A top regulator suddenly bowed out at the European Medicines Agency, as his other employer--France's drug agency AFSSAPS--continues to draw fire. Eric Abadie, who has chaired the EMA's Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use since 2007, resigned yesterday, effective immediately, the agency said in a statement.
An EMA spokesman told Reuters that Abadie's exit was related to his position as scientific adviser to the AFSSAPS director general. The Agence Française de Sécurité Sanitaire des Produits de Santé has been under scrutiny for some time, most recently for its role in the faulty breast implant scandal.
The news that French-made implants were failing in large numbers hit a country already riled by AFSSAPS' failure to pull the Servier diabetes drug Mediator. Regulators elsewhere withdrew the drug, often prescribed in France for weight loss, for safety reasons in 2003 and 2004. By the time the French agency acted in 2009, as many as 2,000 deaths had been linked to the drug. "We want there to be a 'before' and 'after' as regards Mediator in our country," French Health Minister Xavier Bertrand said last fall.
"In terms of EMA and the CHMP, as of this evening (Abadie) is no longer chair of the CHMP, but Tomas Salmonson, the vice-chair, will step in immediately," the EMA spokesman told the news service. "In due course, there will be elections for the new chair."
EMA hasn't been a stranger to scandal itself. Two years ago, its chief, Thomas Lonngren, joined an industry consulting group soon after resigning from the agency, touching off a public outcry. The agency this week announced new conflicts-of-interest rules designed in part to quell the controversy.