The COVID-19 pandemic marked the year 2020, but the EDQM, operating on the front lines of public health protection, immediately drew up contingency plans for all its branches of activity and continued to fulfil its mission despite the necessary restrictions on travel, shipping and contact between individuals. Even in such a difficult context the Ph. Eur. has continued to grow, not only in terms of its scope (29 new monographs, six new chapters and 250 revised texts were added to the compendium) but also in terms of its membership and outreach: Albania became a member state in February and Mexico an observer in May.

With a vital role to play, the EDQM once again proved its relevance for health systems worldwide.

With “business as usual” both impossible and more necessary than ever, the EDQM quickly transitioned to ensuring the continuity of its core activities through a series of measures enabling the European Pharmacopoeia (Ph. Eur.) Commission to respect its work programme; safeguarding the supply of reference standards; ensuring the processing of applications for new, revised or renewed certificates of suitability (CEPs); and guaranteeing the quality control of medicines, including the Official Control Authority Batch Release (OCABR) procedure, through the Official Medicines Control Laboratories (OMCL) Network.

The EDQM also maintained its guidance and standard-setting activities in the areas of blood transfusion, organ, cell and tissue transplantation and consumer health. Communication structures were set up, indispensable procedures and processes were adapted and work organisation as a whole was reformed to weather what was to become a prolonged ordeal.

Moreover, the EDQM actively supported competent authorities, manufacturers and developers of medicines (including vaccines) and health professionals, and contributed to the wider global effort to combat the coronavirus disease by openly sharing knowledge and offering free access to relevant standards, guidance and training.

Full details are available in the EDQM 2020 annual report