13th June, 15:34:20 -0400 (Reuters Health)
LONDON (Reuters Health) - The British agencies responsible for regulating drugs and medical devices will be merged into a single entity from April 2003, the government announced on Thursday.
Combining the Medicines Control Agency and the Medical Devices Agency makes sense because the pharmaceutical and devices sectors are becoming more closely intertwined, said health minister Lord Hunt.
"As technology develops, there are likely to be growing numbers of products that cross the borderline between medicines and devices," he said in a statement. "For instance, some products are already a combination of drugs and devices. The boundaries will become even more blurred in the future."
The government said that there would be some integration of the agencies' functions, but because they operate under different legislation, the merger would not affect existing regulatory processes.
"Companies can be assured that they will continue to deal with an agency that is dedicated to the specific needs of their sector," Lord Hunt said.
The Medicines Control Agency licences drugs, conducts postmarketing surveillance of pharmaceuticals and regulates drug promotion. The Medical Devices Agency investigates adverse incidents associated with devices and ensures that devices comply with European directives.
The merged body--as yet unnamed--will have a chairman who will represent the organization and its decisions in public, the Department of Health said.
A spokesman for the department told Reuters Health that the merger was
not designed to cut costs, although no details about the budget of the
combined agency were available. Discussions were at the very earliest stages,
he said, and more details would be announced in coming months.
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