Home » Earthquake at AIFA, president Palù resigns: «One-year mandate is humiliating»

Earthquake at AIFA, president Palù resigns: «One-year mandate is humiliating»

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Earthquake at AIFA, president Palù resigns: «One-year mandate is humiliating»

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There is no peace at the Medicines Agency which seemed to have just emerged from a tiring restyling that lasted over a year. Its president Giorgio Palù, who already led the Agency during the toughest years of the pandemic, resigned two weeks after receiving reconfirmation as president. The resignation was announced during a meeting with the members of the Board of Directors and the managers of the Agency whose new regulation was published in the Official Journal on 15 January. At the basis of the choice there would be a lack of harmony with the Minister of Health Orazio Schillaci and above all the role limited to only one year.

The one-year mandate is an “offensive and humiliating” choice

The resignation of the president of AIFA, Giorgio Palù, with a letter to the Agency’s Board of Directors a few weeks after the definition of the new Agency with the reform desired by the Government and his reconfirmation, shakes the world of medicines and healthcare more generally. In Palù’s sights, the decree appointing me to the presidency of the Agency was deemed “offensive and humiliating towards my person and my scientific professional profile” due to the provision of the mandate lasting one year, among other things free of charge, linked to the fact that today Palù has reached the age limit (75 years). A choice which for the virologist is “at least equivocal on a legal level” and explains why: “Proof of this – he writes – is the fact that my first assignment as president (I was already retired) took place with a five-year mandate by the previous minister of health. The restrictive interpretation of the law by the current minister is adopted exclusively towards me – he points out – in clear contrast with the appointment decrees just adopted by the same minister for pensioners over seventy called to direct the ISS (Higher Institute of Health) or to participate as consultants in the CSE», Single Scientific-Economic Commission, «of Aifa».

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«The issue is not the pay, proud of the reform»

The choice to resign also came in controversy with Minister Schillaci: «I inform you, after careful consideration, that the lack of harmony with the Minister and the absence of responses from the Government force me to resign as appointed President of Aifa hic and immediate”. «I regret the total lack of listening by the Minister in the choices made for Aifa», adds Palù who underlines that «the non-payment of the position certainly doesn’t worry me. Considering myself to be at the service of the res publica, I have in fact already carried out the functions of President of Aifa for three years without receiving any compensation or attendance fee, even refusing to be the holder of the organisation’s credit card”. However, the virologist says he is proud of «having brought about the reform of the Italian drug agency Aifa, of having conceived, promoted and largely drafted it, and I hope that this is useful to the agency. I don’t have much else to say.”

The reform that has just been completed and the box to fill

The restyling of the Medicines Agency – the Authority that authorizes medicines in Italy (after the approval of the EMA, the EU Agency) and defines reimbursement by the NHS – after a long reflection process lasting over a year it came into force on January 30th. In essence, the reform aimed to make governance more streamlined and efficient by abolishing the figure of the general director and maintaining that of the president as the body and legal representative of AIFA: if before there was a sort of “dyarchy” now it is the president who previously he had an almost exclusively representative role to centralize various tasks. The reform also establishes the general level managerial roles of the administrative director and the technical-scientific director and also provides for the suppression of the technical-scientific advisory commission and the prices and reimbursement committee, operating within the Agency and the simultaneous establishment of the scientific and economic nature of the drug, to which the related functions are attributed. The appointments have all been made, but now with Palù’s farewell, Minister Schillaci will have to quickly find a new president who is appointed by Health in agreement with the Regions and after consulting the Ministry of Economy.

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