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The European Commission, the European Medicines Agency (EMA) and the United States (US) Food and Drug Administration (FDA) have had confidentiality arrangements in place since 2003, allowing for the exchange of confidential information as part of their regulatory and scientific processes.

The arrangement covers information on advanced drafts of legislation and regulatory guidance documents, and non-public information related to ensuring the quality, safety and efficacy of medicinal products for human and veterinary use. The current agreement was signed in 2010 and is now effective for an indefinite period without the need to be renewed:

There are specific implementation plans for human and veterinary medicines:

EMA and the FDA share information on marketing-authorisation procedures, changes to marketing authorisations and post-authorisation surveillance for products under review both in the US and in the EU, through the exchange of assessment reports and review documents and ad-hoc teleconferences between US and EU experts.

Cluster activities

The agencies hold regular meetings by phone or videoconference in so-called ‘clusters’, which are areas of cooperation focusing on special topics and therapeutic areas identified as requiring an intensified exchange of information and collaboration.

For more information on cluster activities, see

Interactions in the area of inspections

The two agencies have developed common procedures for good-clinical-practice (GCP) and good-manufacturing-practice (GMP) inspections.

GMP inspections (updated)

The European Union (EU) and the United States (US) have put in place a mutual recognition agreement (MRA) on good manufacturing practice (GMP) inspections. The aim of the agreement is to encourage greater international harmonisation, make better use of inspection capacity and reduce duplication. For more information, see Mutual recognition with the US.

Other collaborative activities in the area of GMP inspections, which have contributed to building trust and increase confidence in each other’s activities will continue in order to maintain confidence and to allow for the MRA to be fully implemented. This include:

Regular meetings are organised and inspection plans and outcomes may be shared.

The FDA participates in the international active-pharmaceutical-ingredient inspection programme. The programme aims to increase cooperation and mutual reliance between regulators participating in the initiative as well as to ensure the best use of inspection resources worldwide.

For more information, see:

In addition, the Agencies hold quarterly teleconferences on drug shortages due to GMP non-compliance and quality defects since 2013, with the participation of Health Canada and TGA. The aim of this interaction is to develop international co-operation to share information on specific shortages (with or without impact on other territories) and best practices on risk management and prevention strategies.

GCP inspections

In the area of GCP inspections, EMA and FDA are engaged in two main collaborative activities: 

These initiatives aim to reduce the duplication of inspections, to influence inspection decision-making process (triggering/cancelling inspections) and to get a better understanding of each other’s inspection procedures and processes. The participants meet regularly via teleconference and also interact on an ad-hoc basis.

For more information, see:

Quality by design

In March 2011, EMA and the FDA launched a pilot programme for the parallel assessment of sections of applications that are relevant to quality by design, originally for three years. Following a successful first phase, the Agencies extended the pilot for a further two years as of 1 April 2014. 

The objective of this programme is to share knowledge, facilitate a consistent implementation of the international guidelines on quality by design aspects and promote the availability of pharmaceutical products of consistent quality throughout the EU and the US. There are two modalities for participation: parallel assessment (the application is submitted in parallel to both agencies) or consultative advice (the application is submitted either to EMA or FDA, which may request 'consultative advice' from the other party). PMDA may participate as an observer in the programme.

For more information, see the Quality by design page.

Parallel scientific advice

The Agency provides scientific advice and protocol assistance in parallel with the FDA:

Transatlantic Administrative Simplification Action Plan

The Transatlantic Administrative Simplification Action Plan was set up in 2007 to remove administrative burden in the interaction between medicines regulators in Europe and in the US while maintaining levels of public-health protection.

Implementation reports summarising the plan's activities are available:

Transatlantic Taskforce on Antimicrobial Resistance

The Transatlantic Taskforce on Antimicrobial Resistance (TATFAR) was created in 2009 with the goal of improving cooperation between the US and the EU in three key areas: 

    • appropriate therapeutic use of antimicrobial drugs in medical and veterinary communities;
    • prevention of healthcare and community-associated drug-resistant infections;
    • strategies for improving the pipeline of new antimicrobial drugs.
  • The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention of the United States currently provides the secretariat for the task force and publishes documents related to its work on a dedictaed TATFAR webpage. The European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control provided the secretariat from 2009-2013.

More information on EMA-FDA interactions

The FDA and EMA have seconded liaison officials to each other’s premises for several years, based on a terms of reference published in 2009.

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