Brexit vote sparks fight over EU medicines agency

Britain's vote to leave the European Union has triggered a battle among other member states to take over the hosting of the European Medicines Agency.

The regulatory body, which approves and monitors medicines used in the EU, has been based in London since it was established in 1995.

Pharmaceutical companies in Sweden and Denmark had said before Thursday's vote their countries should seek to host the EMA if Britain decided to leave the bloc, and their Italian counterparts were quick to join the race on Friday.

"As far as the EMA is concerned, Italy has all the right cards to become the new headquarters," Massimo Scaccabarozzi, president of industry body Farmindustria, said in a statement.

Based in the Docklands area of London, EMA employs hundreds of scientists from all over Europe.

The agency will not have to move immediately as Britain will continue to be part of the European Union while arrangements for its exit are negotiated.

Britain could theoretically remain part of the agency as it currently also handles regulatory functions for Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway, which are part of Europe's single market but not EU member states.