Vapaavuori slams government for stubbornness over Fimea

The Finnish Medicines Agency’s (Fimea) head office will remain in Kuopio.

Jan Vapaavuori (NCP), the Mayor of Helsinki, has expressed his disappointment with the government’s decision to de-centralise the operations of the Finnish Medicines Agency (Fimea).

The government agreed yesterday that the head office of the agency, which is tasked with supervising and developing the domestic pharmaceutical industry, will remain in Kuopio, while its other operations will remain situated in Turku and Helsinki.

The decision is effectively a reversal of a decision made in 2012, which would have transferred all of the staff and operations of Fimea to Kuopio by the end of 2018. The Centre Party has called for the de-centralisation of the agency, while the National Coalition has expressed its concern that the agency can only attract skilled employees if its head office is in Helsinki.

Fimea currently employs roughly 60 staff members in Kuopio, 170 staff members in Helsinki and 7 staff members in Turku, according to Helsingin Sanomat.

The Ministry of Social Affairs and Health tells in a press release that de-centralising the operations according to the initial plan would have necessitated mass lay-offs due to the significant reluctance of current staff members to move to Kuopio.

Vapaavuori on Wednesday warned that the decision could jeopardise Finland's efforts to become the next host of the European Medicines Agency (EMA), which will be re-located from the United Kingdom following the country’s withdrawal from the European Union. Finland is one of several member states that have declared their intent to host the EMA.

Fimea's location could prove decisive in the application process, stated Vapaavuori.

“The government’s stubbornness about its biggest de-centralisation failure is saddening. The EMA application process will be complicated further, even though parts of Fimea remain in Helsinki,” he tweeted.

The Finnish government has yet to specify which city it believes would be the best-suited for hosting the massive agency and its roughly 900 staff members. It was expected to make the announcement shortly after resolving the long-running dispute over Fimea.

Vapaavuori revealed last week that an application is already being drawn in Helsinki.

Aleksi Teivainen – HT

Photo: Timo Hartikainen – Lehtikuva

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