The European Medicines Agency says it expects to receive fee revenues worth 152.78 billion euros in 2010, compared to just under 141 billion euros this year.

The Agency’s total budget for next year will be 198.18 billion euros, compared to 194.38 billion euros in 2009, and will include contributions from the European Union worth 37.11 billion euros, a considerable drop from 2009’s receipt of 46.79 billion euros.

Announcing next year’s budget, the EMEA Management Board says it has also adopted the Agency’s work programme for 2010, which marks the final year of its Road Map to 2010. In line with this initiative, priorities next year will include work to strengthen the European medicines network, improve drug safety monitoring and cooperation with international partners, foster transparency and provision of information and stimulate innovation and improved availability of medicines.

The Board also endorsed the Agency’s new draft Road Map to 2015, which is due to go out for public consultation in late January, and approved a new strategy aimed at increasing involvement by patients and consumers in the Agency’s work.

“Patients and consumers usually bring a unique input and a different perspective to those [EMEA] activities in which they participate - usually they contribute by encouraging reflection about the real-life implications of regulatory decisions,” says the Agency. Their contribution, which is “very often” taken into account, is valid and improves the regulatory outcome, it adds.

Experience so far has shown patients and consumers to be very focused in this work and that they understand the limits of their contribution, the Agency notes, adding that they have always contributed to the scientific committees in a responsible manner and in accordance with the spirit of EU legislation; for example, they have not favoured products in order to obtain positive opinions unless clear benefits to the patients have been demonstrated.

However, a major hindrance to their full involvement has been a lack of resources and the “enormous effort” made by patient and consumer organisations in supporting their representative “experts and delegates” who participate in Agency activities, it says. These experts and delegates mostly work for their organisations on a voluntary basis and do not receive any financial support for the work they do at the Agency, or any financial compensation for any loss of income or additional expenses incurred as a result of this work.

Therefore, the Agency says, it plans to double the daily allowance received by such experts and delegates, provided that: - they are a member of a scientific committee or the Management Board, or are an expert nominated by the Agency; and - they work on a voluntary basis for the organization which they represent and do not receive any other financial income for their work at the Agency. They will be paid this special allowance on the basis of each day of the meeting which they attend, it adds.