The pharmaceutical industry, mainly importers of pharmaceutical products and medical devices, is putting intense pressure on the government to remove Anthony Serracino Inglott from the post of executive chairman of the Malta Medicines Authority, who’s spent almost a decade at the helm, The Shift has learned.
Industry sources told The Shift that the prime minister has been told that the industry would like to see radical changes at the small regulatory Authority, which they say has been turned into a sort of personal fiefdom by the experienced pharmacy professor.
“You cannot keep a person in the post of chairman for almost a decade without a change. It is obvious that after a certain time you need to have fresh ideas if an Authority is to move forward. For some reason, this has not happened, and the Medicines Authority is stuck and turned into some sort of exclusive club for the chairman’s friends and his acquaintances,” a heavyweight in the pharmaceutical industry told The Shift.
Sources at the GRTU, which has a section representing importers of pharmaceutical products, made a similar claim.
Appointed as executive chairperson at the Medicines Authority in 2013 by then minister Helena Dalli, Anthony Serracino Inglott, now 77, was re-appointed by all Labour ministers in charge of the Authority up to the last election.
Described by MMA officials as “a man who bows to power,” Serracino Inglott is paid some €63,000 a year, even though he has been receiving a full government pension for many years.
Apart from attending his duties at the Authority, Serracino Inglott is also still lecturing at the University of Malta, though his job at the Authority is a full-time position.
MMA sources told The Shift that under Serracino Inglott’s leadership, the regulator has been turned into some sort of personal fiefdom and that there is no chance of joining or advancing “if you are not on the professor’s good books”.
“The Authority has been turned into a recruitment institution for those pharmacy students who are liked by the professor at his lectures,” the sources explained.
During the last few years, political affiliations have also played an important part.
Among Serracino Inglott’s recent recruits are Danica Camilleri Agius Decelis – the daughter of former Parliamentary Secretary Anthony Agius Decelis, Julian Fearne, the son of Health Minister Chris Fearne and Annalise Attard, the wife of the former Labour Mayor of Mtarfa. The latter, Daniel Attard, was also given a consultancy contract by Serracino Inglott before he was given the post of Deputy High Commissioner in London, at 28.
Recently, Serracino Inglott recruited Louise Grech as one of the top directors at the Authority. Grech, from Gozo, is also a University lecturer, and she also happens to be the sister of Serracino Inglott’s long term partner, Lilian Azzopardi.
Azzopardi, a former student of Serracino Inglott, has been in a relationship with the professor for many years and is also the Head of Department of Pharmacy at the University – the same department that employs Serracino Inglott as a lecturer.
The Shift is also informed that just a few days before the general elections, Serracino Inglott hired a local politician from Mosta who has now become a Labour MP. The Malta Medicines Authority did not reply to questions about the selection.
Serracino Inglott also refused to reply to questions about recruitment at the Authority that he has led for a decade has been conducted over the years, including the engagement of close members of his partner’s family.