April 5, 2012 / 6:22 PM / 5 years ago

UPDATE 1-Chairman of top EU drugs committee quits

(Adds AFFSAPS statement)

LONDON/PARIS, April 5 (Reuters) - The chairman of the European Medicines Agency's main committee for approving new drugs resigned on Wednesday after his position at the French healthcare regulator AFSSAPS was eliminated.

Eric Abadie's resignation as chairman of the European Medicines Agency's (EMA) Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) took effect immediately.

Abadie, who has been chairman of the CHMP since 2007, had also served as the scientific adviser to the director general of AFSSAPS, which paid his salary.

But that role was no longer needed under a reorganisation of the French agency announced in December, and the EMA was not able to take on Abadie's salary to keep him as the CHMP committee head.

"The director of EMA was informed and asked in December to take on Eric Abadie so he could continue his work, but the EMA could not respond favourably to this request," said AFSSAPS in an emailed statement on Thursday.

AFSSAPS is under scrutiny for allowing the sale of diabetes drug Mediator long after it had been pulled from the market elsewhere on safety grounds. Public concern about the agency has been further increased by the scandal over breast implants manufactured by now-bankrupt French company PIP.

"Tomas Salmonson, the vice-chair, will step in immediately," the EMA spokesman said of the drugs' approval committee CHMP.

"In due course there will be elections for the new chair."

The next regular meeting of the CHMP, scheduled for April 16-19, will be chaired by Salmonson. (Reporting by Ben Hirschler and Kate Kelland; editing by Andre Grenon, Bernard Orr)

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