EU drugs agency tightens rules on experts moving to industry jobs

May 6 (Reuters) - Europe's medicines regulator said on Wednesday it would restrict experts and committee members who intend to work for a pharmaceutical company from participating in the evaluation of medicines, in a move to reduce conflict of interests.

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) updated its "revolving door" rules on the declaration of interests, including a revised guide on how to complete its declaration form. (http://bit.ly/1EPMmU7)

The move follows complaints by critics that officials moving to the industry could be privy to sensitive information and could use contacts within the agency to further the cause of the companies they work for.

"It would be imprudent for a person who knows that he or she will be working for a private company (and thus pursue only that company's interests) very soon, to join those discussions ... the perceived conflict of a committee member can be as harmful to the agency as an actual conflict of interest," the agency said in its guidelines. (http://bit.ly/1EfIo3K)

The agency added that in the event of a conflict being identified, it would verify if the integrity of a current scientific review could have been compromised.

The EMA - Europe's equivalent of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration - endorsed a major revision of its policy on handling declarations of interest for scientific committee members and experts in March 2014, which entered into force on Jan. 30.

The regulator said the updates were based on early experience with the revised policy, and that it would continue to review the policy on a regular basis. (Reporting by Roshni Menon in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)

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