The year 2020 won’t soon be forgotten. From March, our daily lives and work were dominated by a single subject: the COVID-19 pandemic had an unprecedented impact. And with that, the year brought a new perspective... Or did it?

New perspective

Yes, everything changed. The virus had and continues to have a major impact on how we do our work. Meetings with colleagues, with external stakeholders and international contacts take place online. We all work from home, remotely and with all the obstacles and inconveniences that come with it.

The content of our work shifted as well. More eyes were on the MEB than ever before. Our assessors worked on accelerated assessment procedures for COVID-19 vaccines and medicines. We contributed to scientific advice for academic groups and manufacturers with regard to medicines to treat COVID-19. We cooperated with other regulatory authorities in Europe on a large scale. And we shared knowledge about quality, safety and efficacy of medicines and vaccines in press conferences and in the Grootste Coronaspreekuur (‘Great COVID Consultation Hour’) on YouTube.

Yet many things did not change. We must not forget that it was business as usual in the other areas of our work. Non-COVID-related assessments and procedures didn’t stop by any means, but continued unabated. We also had our hands full identifying impurities in medicines, about which there was a lot of concern and for which we took various measures. There was intensive cooperation in this area, at both the national and European level, including with the Dutch Health and Youth Care Inspectorate (IGJ) and the Ministry of Health, Welfare and Sport (VWS). We also developed Medicine and Vaccine in Short, easy-to-understand versions of the patient information leaflet.

At the MEB’s Veterinary Medicinal Products Unit, work intensified in 2020 on the implementation of the new European regulation for veterinary medicines, which is due to be completed in early 2022.

The financial result is a reflection of all the work done. We closed 2020 with a modest loss (1.2% of annual sales). In this annual report and in the financial statements, we provide insight into the underlying outcomes and put them into perspective.

All in all, 2020 was a year in which everything changed – and yet didn't. A year we can look back on with pride, at all MEB staff who, in spite of the unusual situation and new perspective, committed themselves fully to ensuring the quality, efficacy and safety of medicines in the Netherlands.

Hugo Hurts, Secretary/Director and Ton de Boer, Chair