NAO warns Medicines Control Agency over financial control

16 Jan 03
The Medicines Control Agency must get a grip on its financial management, the National Audit Office said this week.

17 January 2003

It found that the agency, which is wholly funded by fees from the pharmaceutical industry, was doing well in protecting the public from dangers posed by unsafe medical substances.

But it faced potential conflicts of interest, the NAO warned.

In addition to controlling medical safety, the agency has an objective to facilitate the development of the pharmaceutical industry.

'This is a matter of concern to some stakeholders regarding the agency's independence,' the NAO report, Safety, quality, efficacy: regulating medicines in the UK, noted.

It also warned that the agency, which is due to merge with the Medical Devices Agency in April, had suffered weaknesses of financial control, including 'a lack of controls over spending and a failure to focus on rising levels of outstanding fees'.

The agency is required to break even year-on-year, but by 1998 had accumulated a surplus of £17m. It reduced its fees to dispose of this and by 2001/02 had an income of £40m and a surplus of £2.5m.


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